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Fire Department (internal)

Posted on: July 20, 2023

Fire Officials Respond to Concerns Following Controlled Burn in Forest Hills

The below notice was sent on July 20 via email to residents in Forest Hills who reached out to the City following the controlled burn on July 14:

Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention concerning paint chips and ash falling into your yard during our live training burn on Friday, July 14.

First, I want to apologize for any stress this has caused you and your family, and I want you to know we have been consulting with local and state public health experts to assess what needs to be done to ensure the safety of your family.

Since you alerted us to your concern, we’ve been in communication with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), and the Durham County Public Health Department (DCo Public Health) for their recommendations on the best way to proceed given this is the first time we’ve encountered this situation because of our training activities. NCDHHS has notified us that they will be inspecting the burn site (1415 Bivins Street) on Tuesday, July 25.

While none of these local and state agencies have indicated an immediate need for concern, we are moving forward by attempting to secure a remediation company to assist with testing and cleanup of debris and paint chips. To prevent a delay in your property being cleaned, please reply to this email as soon as possible that you consent for the City of Durham and/or the City’s contractor to access your property for cleanup.

Second, I know you have concerns about the possibility of lead paint and the health of your family while we work to address the paint chips on your property. Please know that safety is our top priority in all that we do.

As we arranged for this training, we followed all state and local guidelines, all North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal and National Fire Protection Association protocols, including mandatory asbestos testing required by the NCDHHS. At this time, there is no requirement for lead testing when a building is burned; however, we have proactively implemented a hold on all future training burns until we thoroughly review how to address the potential for lead hazards not addressed in current state and local guidelines. We hope to work with these state agencies to determine the possible need for change in future protocols.

Finally, DCo Public Health has information on preventing harm from lead exposure. They are the experts in this area, and I recommend you contact them directly at 919-560-7600 or by email at [email protected] if you have any public health questions.

If you have any questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Again, I apologize for the stress and inconvenience this has caused you, and I will provide you with updates on our actions.

Thank you for your continued patience while we work diligently to remedy this matter as quickly and safely as possible.

Robert J. Zoldos II
Fire Chief
City of Durham Fire Department

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