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.””

Bloomington residents get some updates on leaden ashfall from fire department training

Keep children and pets away from the ash and burned paint chips that fell out of the smoke plume from a fire that Bloomington’s fire department set at 1213 High Street on Friday.

That’s the advice that local health officials gave last Friday about the ash from the plume.

It’s the same advice that was relayed by the fire department in a news release this Wednesday.  On Friday, the fire department burned the house to the ground, after conducting a week-long series of training exercises involving smaller fires, each of which were extinguished.

The ash and burned paint chips are now confirmed by independent tests to contain lead. That’s consistent with the testing that’s been done on pieces of trim from the vintage 1951 house that was burned.

The light breeze on Friday took the ash westward.

Matt Murphy, who lives about two-tenths of a mile west of the burn site, did the first tests for lead, using an over-the-counter kit from 3M. Murphy tested the ash almost immediately after it started landing on his property. He’s a contractor and knew exactly where to buy the kits—Bloomington Paint and Wallpaper. Continue reading “Bloomington residents get some updates on leaden ashfall from fire department training”

Bloomington mobilizes to remediate potential lead ash hazard after controlled burn of house, aims to “err on the side of caution”

On Saturday, after Friday morning’s controlled burn of a house on the city’s east side, fire chief Jason Moore and deputy chief Jayme Washel were going door-to-door talking to neighbors who live west of the burn site.

The top fire officials were informing residents about the potential hazard from the ash that fell Friday on the neighborhood near the house at 1213 High Street, which was burned as a part of a week-long series of training exercises at the house.

Neighbors were also given information about ways they could approach remediation of the ash. Emergency funding has been authorized by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton to pay for work by a disaster remediation company called SERVPRO, Moore told The B Square.

A web form to request remediation of outside areas has been set up for residents by the city of Bloomington. Affected residents don’t have to pay for the remediation.

A web page about the controlled burn, which has been set up by the city of Bloomington, includes instructions about how to wet wash areas inside a house. According to the city’s web page, “Wet washing is the best way to clean up lead dust.”

[Updated Oct. 8, 2021 at 6:52 p.m. The city of Bloomington issued a news release just after 6 p.m. on Monday with some updated information. Among the updates: The service provider initially identified for the cleanup was apparently not able to deliver the requested work. From the news release: “After encountering delays in contracting with one environmental remediation company, the BFD is working to identify and contract with an alternate service provider to conduct the evaluation and cleanup, to be offered at no charge to affected residents.”] Continue reading “Bloomington mobilizes to remediate potential lead ash hazard after controlled burn of house, aims to “err on the side of caution””

Tests show lead in falling ash flakes after Bloomington’s controlled house burn: Keep kids, pets away from ash

In connection with Friday morning’s controlled burn of a house on High Street by Bloomington’s Fire Department, ash flakes and dust fell on the neighborhood to the west.

Resident Matt Murphy, who lives about 300 yards from the burn site, immediately tested some flakes from his strawberry patch, among other places, for lead content. He used a kit manufactured by 3M, which is available in retail outlets.

The checks done by Murphy turned the test swabs red, which indicates the presence of lead. The B Square was able to replicate the same result with a different flake and test kit.

On Friday evening, Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore issued a news release that states: “Local health officials recommend keeping kids and pets away from the ash until testing indicates if it is hazardous.”

Testing will be done by Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). Moore’s release says IDEM was notified as soon as a complaint was received about potential lead contamination from the ash generated by the fire.

On a visit to Murphy’s street on Friday afternoon, The B Square bumped into Scott Frosch, an environmental scientist with IDEM’s emergency response team. Frosch was collecting samples and placing them in plastic bags.

Fire chief Moore’s statement issued late Friday continues: “If individuals want to pick up any of the ash, they are advised to wear gloves, place the ash in a sealable plastic bag, and to wash their hands afterwards.”

On the topic of the ash, the news release concludes, “Once testing results are available, further communication will be released concerning disposal.” Continue reading “Tests show lead in falling ash flakes after Bloomington’s controlled house burn: Keep kids, pets away from ash”