After two devastating fires, five members of the Bellefonte Borough Council volunteered to become part of a new Fire Prevention Task Force at the Oct. 16 meeting.
Council member Dave Provan, one of the five who joined the force, said the council voted to create the force after a fire destroyed the Hotel Do De.
“It’s a group effort,” Provan said. “What’s the borough going to do about these fires? The borough really is everyone, and people tend to forget that.”
He said the four other members are fellow council members Vana Dainty, Walter Schneider, Tom Wilson and Chairman of the force Gay Dunne.
Provan said they need to partner with the Bellefonte citizens, as well as the fire department.
He said the force had to be sure to inspect properties, inside and out, because he said there has been a lot of concern on the parts of the landlords who own the buildings.
Provan said some landlords are afraid they will have to install sprinkler systems in their buildings but said this was just an option.
“We haven’t made any decision like that yet,” he said. “We’ll hear what other types of things are available, too, besides sprinkling the building. A sprinkler only goes off when there’s enough heat to set it off, which would mean there’s already a fire.”
Provan said another option was sensors, which would detect the heat and act as a more preventative measure.
He said they hoped to get input from different facets of the community, not just the landlords who own buildings in the historic district.
“Fires happen all across the world,” Provan said. “It’s not possible to stop every fire, but we want to make sure we do our very best to save every life we can and, if possible, save the buildings, too.”
Council member Joe Beigle said he thought the task force would be effective in preventing fires throughout town.
He said the fire department would also be a part of the force.
Bellefonte resident Heather Mills said she thinks having the preventive fire task force is a good idea.
Mills said because she lives in the historical district, two of the fires have been close to her home.
“The heightened awareness of it, things to do for prevention, how to look for people who may be potential problematic people, I just think it’s a great idea. I really do,” she said.