7 EYEWITNESS NEWS INVESTIGATES: Lackawanna officials change their story on fire inspection reports

Two months has turned into two years for last test
Posted at 6:23 PM, Nov 11, 2016

Two days ago, Lackawanna city officials promised to show 7 Eyewitness News the fire inspection reports of the former Bethlehem Steel plant that remains smoldering along Route 5.

The inspection reports would confirm that the building was indeed inspected – as officials have claimed – for fire safety, and would possibly shed light on whether the building was equipped with sprinklers and other fire suppression measures. 

But so far, silence is the only sound emanating from Lackawanna City Hall.

City officials have not provided the records, but they have changed their story on the date of the last fire inspection.

Here’s what they were saying on Wednesday:

“Our fire inspector has been on the property as recent as two months ago,” said City Development Director Fred Heinle. “Yeah, within the last couple of months, yes.”

But just one day later, officials are now giving a much different timeline.

“The fire inspector was in there two years ago,” said Fire Chief Ralph Galanti. “So we did inspect it two years ago. We have over 500 businesses and one fire inspector so he does try to get it. But he was here two years ago.”

We were hoping Lackawanna officials could clear up this discrepancy, so we left messages with three different offices at City Hall.

But still, not a word from anyone in the Steel City.  

Even if it was two years ago, there are questions about whether that is an acceptable time between fire inspections.

New York State Fire Code requires buildings of this nature to be inspected at least every three years, but some building experts have told 7 Eyewitness News that given the use of the building, it really should have been looked at annually.