The Jasper Fire Department responded swiftly and decisively once notified the controlled burn they conducted January 14th wasn’t in compliance with EPD (Environmental Protection Division) regulations. Jasper Fire Chief Steve Roper notified FYN that he wasn’t aware of the regulations but the paperwork and follow-up at the scene are being handled as the EPD recommends.
“We will…be hiring someone to perform the necessary tests for asbestos and depending on the results of those tests, we will act accordingly to resolve the issue,”
In a conversation with Assistant Chief Von Headrick he assured FYN the department is continuing to address the problem head-on.
“We are working closely with the EPD to rectify the situation,”
FYN has attempted to contact Mayor John Weaver several times to see what actions the city government will be taking but those messages continue to go unanswered.
Previous story, Wednesday, January 14, 2014:
Jasper Fire Department held a controlled burn for a training exercise on Birch Street today. As the black smoke rolled across the rooftops of businesses and residences downtown people worried that yet another fire was underway during a week already rife with fires.
What they likely didn’t anticipate is that the Jasper Fire Department conducted this fire without following the proper protocol. In a call to the district office of the GAEPD (Georgia Environmental Protection Division), FYN learned that no permit had been filed to conduct such a burn which is strictly overseen by the EPD (Environmental Protection Division).
Before the blaze is even set, first the fire department is required to conduct a thorough asbestos inspection and have any asbestos removed. Then they must remove any asphalt shingles and exposed wiring.
Brian Koehler is responsible for all applications for such structured burns and admits that they didn’t receive a permit to burn the structure. He also states that in the past there has been more of an outreach program to local fire departments than there is now so the possibility exists the department was unaware of the procedure.
What will happen now is since it’s been determined this is the first offense, they will be instructed as to EPD regulations and they will have to hire an accredited asbestos inspector to come in to conduct an inspection on the site and the material will have to remain as is until that inspection is completed. If there are contaminants there they will have to pay for a clean-up and have them removed by government regulations.
The main concern for residents would be asbestos exposure which Koehler states, if undisturbed, pose no immediate danger. Other than asbestos concerns from the home, other carcinogen health concerns are also low. At times shingles may emit polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons but the highest health risk for nearby people inhaling smoke from a house fire is lung inflammation. Other more debilitating health risks are only increased through repeated or long-term exposure to these substances.
Should a second non-sanctioned event happen, additional enforcement action could be imposed.
Calls to Jasper Fire Chief Steve Roper and Mayor John Weaver have not been returned.