The map of the problem areas identified in the 2020 fire parking study.
By Alice Crow
Council members in Crafton fine-tuned a new “fire inspection program” and discussed an upcoming ordinance related to commonly blocked intersections during the borough’s Sept. 8 meeting.
The new ordinance requires commercial, multi-family, assembly, industrial and institutional properties to have annual inspections to identify and mitigate potential fire hazards. Single-family homes are exempt.
“The whole purpose of this ordinance is safety and by doing this move, it reinforces that the borough is concerned about safety and that is our priority,” Doug Sample, borough manager, said.
In Crafton, around 300 properties are estimated to need upgrades in order to comply with the new ordinance. Council members may waive the fee during the first year of implementation to allow property owners time to make renovations without fear of penalty.
Sample said he hopes the amendment will lessen confusion as the program rolls out.
Prior to implementation, information about this new program will be circulated. Outreach education should begin to roll out during the first week of October.
Another fire safety initiative being implemented is related to a 2020 study identifying intersections commonly blocked by illegal parking that could cause safety concerns if fire trucks or other emergency vehicles could not maneuver these areas.
Greg Laepple, a Crafton police officer and a volunteer firefighter, who conducted the study in 2020, came to the Sept. 8 meeting to answer questions from council members.
The report had been previously discussed at the borough’s Aug. 25 meeting.
According to the report, 43 locations were identified as problematic and a draft motion prohibiting parking in those areas is up for review at craftonborough.com.
Currently, under the motor vehicle code, vehicles must be parked 15 feet or more from any intersection or stop sign. While there may be more areas where vehicles are technically illegally parked, the study specifically focused on locations that could cause a safety problem in the case of an emergency.
“It’s going to be taking away some parking,” Laepple said. “[The study] was not meant to scare anyone or take away parking spaces from residents. There’s gonna be no perfect solution, we’re just looking to improve our ability to get to a scene if we’re required to go.”
Council Vice President Kirsten Compitello clarified that any action related to this study is within the borough’s rights.
“None of this is taking away any parking that’s legal. So technically, we’re not taking away a parking space that wasn’t legal in the first place by enforcing standards that are already existing,” she said.
“I think what this comes down to is that this is an old community and we have a lot of urban patterns that have been there for many years that predate the travel patterns that we have now. But when we have a very tight intersection, should that space be given to private individuals to park their personal vehicles or should that space be given as a priority to make sure that emergency vehicles can navigate that intersection?”
After Laepple’s presentation, council members discussed actions they could take on the matter. After some confusing debate as to what the borough was allowed to do about the issue, council members passed a motion to have important leaders from the engineering committee, fire department and police department meet to further discuss the studies findings.
Additionally, at the discretion of Public Works, the borough will remark areas where parking is technically prohibited but may not be obvious to residents.