BELLEFONTE — Borough Council will tackle the topic on the minds of Bellefonte residents the fire that destroyed the Hotel Do De.
Sunday’s fire is the most recent in a string of blazes that over the years have claimed the Bellefonte Academy, the Bush House, the Cadillac Building and the Valentine House.
And, of course, it has renewed discussion about how to prevent them.
Borough Council will devote an hour of Monday’s meeting to the issue, said Borough Manager Ralph Stewart.
“We are planning to dedicate the next council work session to the discussion of what can be done, beyond what has already been done, to prevent future fires,” he said.
The discussion part of the work session starts at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers in the borough building, 236 W. Lamb St. No voting takes place at a work session.
The public is invited to attend the meeting. A public comment period will come during the voting meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Sprinklers long have been thought of as the fix, as the Cadillac Building and Bush House fires ignited the debate about whether sprinklers could have doused the flames and curbed extensive damage.
But the 138-year-old Valentine House that was gutted in 2008 had sprinklers, although not activated yet, and a state fire marshal said the fire started in the attic and the sprinklers would not have helped.
The Bush House fire triggered the borough creating a fire task force that came up with safety recommendations, but the Borough Council disbanded the group after the group did its work. At the time, it appeared that council members struggled with forcing property owners to bear the costs of installing sprinkler systems.
The council has done other measures — requiring fire safety inspections of commercial buildings and spending grant money to pay for sprinkler installation.
“We just know something has to happen because we can’t keep losing our historical buildings,” said council Vice President Vana Dainty. “This time we really have to step up.”
Councilman Dave Provan said council members have gone back and forth about the fire issue over email this week.
He said the council will revisit old conversations they’ve had about fire prevention and find solutions to keep Bellefonte’s cultural identity from being burned by another blaze.
“We’re all in shock,” he said.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT