Following a January 3 fire that injured at least two people, Bath Mayor Fiorella Mirabito is urging the borough’s council to push forward with a rental inspection ordinance before another tragedy strikes the borough. Plans for an ordinance have been in and out of committee for about a year.
“There were several issues [in the home] that if we would have had a rental inspection, they would have been caught,” she said during council’s January 6 meeting.
At least ten local fire departments responded to the fire, which started around 8:30 am at 214-216 East Northampton Street. Two residents were injured when jumping from the building. Students at nearby Sacred Heart School had to be evacuated to the Bath Fire Social Hall.
Councilman Frank Hesch echoed the mayor’s concerns. He said a rental inspection ordinance is long-past due.
“What went unaddressed, I am very angry about. We need this now more than ever,” he said. “I do not want residents living in fear.”
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. Mirabito called the fire a “tragedy” and an “accident,” but added that a lot of similar safety issues in the borough can be prevented.
“People could have died because of the ignorance of landlords who should not be landlords,” she said to applause. “We were lucky this time because of the response of our volunteer fire company.”
Councilman Tony Kovalovsky also urged for a quicker process of adopting the ordinance, adding that landlords would have a year to get their properties up to code.
“All we are trying to do is to keep the community safe,” he said. He added that there will inevitably be “one or two” landlords who have a problem with the ordinance, but he and council will do anything they can to keep the borough and its residents safe.
Council President Mark Saginario warned that moving too quickly could result in the ordinance being redone, and cited issues some neighboring communities have had. However, the ordinance will next be brought to council on Wednesday, Jan. 8, for discussion and questions, with the hope that it will be adopted in the near future.
All of council praised the work of the volunteer firefighters, as well as the Bath Fire Social Hall for taking in students.
“I cannot thank you enough,” said Mirabito. “[You] step up to help us all the time.”
This has been the borough’s second major fire in a little over a year.
Donations for the fire victims are being collected by Sacred Heart Church and the borough’s 7-Eleven. A Go Fund Me page has also been set up.
In other news:
- Jimmy Pasquariello, President of the Bath Fire Social Hall, was in attendance to donate $500 to the borough’s volunteer fire department.
- The next Neighborhood Watch Meeting will be held on February 19 at 6 p.m.
- Borough council has approved borough manager Brad Flynn to begin the hiring process for a parking enforcement officer.
- The municipal building’s parking lot has been designated as a Safe Exchange Zone. Residents who wish to sell items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc. can meet their buyers in the parking lot, where cameras are always on for safety.
- Brian Radcliffe of American Legion Post 470 asked for council’s permission to hang Hometown Heroes banners on Main Street. The banners will highlight the service of local war veterans. They can be purchased for $200 and will include the name, picture, branch, and years of service of the veteran.
“Bath has always been such a great community,” he said. “This will be a good way to bring the community together more.”
The banners will be unveiled during the post’s 100th Anniversary Celebration in August. Council unanimously approved the request.