After lead paint fallout, Bloomington fire chief sets policy on controlled burning of a house: “We will not be doing that in the future.”

Another controlled burning of an “acquired structure” like the house at 1213 High Street on Bloomington’s east side will not take place while Jason Moore is the city’s fire chief.

In this B Square file photo from July of 2021, fire chief Jason Moore addresses the new class of firefighter recruits.

Burning the High Street house to the ground on Friday Nov. 5—after three previous days of live fire training inside the house—caused a plume of lead-based paint chips and ash to cover a portion of the neighborhood to the west.

At Tuesday’s regular meeting of Bloomington’s board of public safety, Moore described the balance of benefits from the training compared to the risk. “We did receive some very valuable training out of this, but it’s not worth the risk,” Moore said.

The fire chief continued, “So I can assure everyone that as the chief of the department, we will not be doing that in the future.”

Immediately after the conflagration caused the lead-contaminated plume to settle on his neighborhood, councilmember Dave Rollo started mulling city legislation against such training fires.

On Tuesday, Moore addressed those city councilmembers, including Rollo, who were tuned in for the board of public safety meeting, which was held as a Zoom video-conference. “With or without that legislation, I can assure you that we do not intend to conduct another controlled burning in an acquired structure again,” Moore said.

The board’s Tuesday meeting was also a chance for Moore to give some updates on the extent of the hazard, progress on the clean up, the cost of the work, and some specific direction to residents.

Some of the information provided by Moore at Tuesday’s board meeting was included in a Monday news release or on a page on the city’s website dedicated to the lead ash fallout from the Nov. 5 controlled burn on High Street. Continue reading “After lead paint fallout, Bloomington fire chief sets policy on controlled burning of a house: “We will not be doing that in the future.””

Initial thoughts on policing from public to Bloomington city council committee: Sell Bearcat armored vehicle; re-open Joseph Smedley case

A meeting held last Thursday by Bloomington city council’s four-member public safety committee got some initial comments from the public on the topic of policing in the city.

cropped Sims Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 1.09.10 PM

Opening remarks from committee chair Jim Sims included the statement: “We are here to listen to you, the public.” Sims wrapped up his remarks by saying, “A deeper look into the local law enforcement operations is warranted. We just know that tonight we are here, and we need to listen.”

Sims indicated there would likely be additional such meetings.

During public comment at the committee meeting, an appeal to sell the Bloomington police department’s (BPD’s) Bearcat armored vehicle—purchased two years ago for $225,000—came from a dozen different commenters. They want the proceeds to be spent on social services.

That echoed the call from Black Lives Matter (BLM) B-town Core Council to sell the Bearcat and defund the police made during a June 6 Facebook event.

Others called for the re-opening of the Joseph Smedley case from 2015. An event listed on Facebook, held a year after the 20-year-old’s death, described the case: “In the fall of 2015, a young Black student, Joseph Smedley, went missing and was later found dead in Griffy Lake. The overall lack of appropriate response…left many Black students and folks in the neighboring community feeling as if their lives did not matter.” Continue reading “Initial thoughts on policing from public to Bloomington city council committee: Sell Bearcat armored vehicle; re-open Joseph Smedley case”