Ahead of a planned Touch-a-Truck event spearheaded by the Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School Parent Teacher Association, a work session at the Haddonfield board of commissioners’ Sept. 13 meeting focused on the pros and cons of holding the gathering with guests who might include unvaccinated children.
Touch-a-Truck is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 8, at Haddon and on surrounding streets. Plans are to close off either Peyton or Mount Vernon avenues, both of which border the school. The PTA is seeking permission from the three commissioners to have a fire truck from Haddon Fire Company No. 1 at the event and to include food trucks around the closed street that borders the school.
October is Fire Prevention Month, but due to the lingering threat of the COVID Delta variant, the fire company has expressed reservations about holding an event where its equipment is present, given that many children under the age of 12 have not been vaccinated. In previous years, events like Fire Prevention Day would include parents and children visiting the firehouse itself to interact with firefighters and explore its equipment.
“I know, based on my conversations with (Fire) Chief (Lou) Frontino at the end of August, they were essentially putting on hold its request to us to move forward with standard-operating procedures for their community relations events,” revealed Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich.
The borough recently reached out to Frontino, but had not received a definitive answer by the time of the work session. Bezich promised to follow up with the chief and stated that if the fire department is uncomfortable holding tactile events given possible attendance by unvaccinated children, she would agree with that stance.
Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough cited the prospect of the three commissioners choosing not to approve the event if it had no fire truck or other equipment. But they did not object to the outdoor nature of the event and agreed it should be up to parents to assess the risk.
“I know we just had a number of events outside with a number of ages ranging from 5 to 75. And it looks like this is an event that, early fall, (is) still outdoors and from 4 to 7. I’m OK with them doing it,” said Commissioner Kevin Roche.
Bezich concluded by reaffirming that both she and Borough Clerk Deanna Bennett would reach out to Frontino, with a response to commissioners from Bennett on the fire company’s permission or denial. If permission is granted, the fire company is expected to enumerate safety guidelines for guests if a truck is allowed.
In other news:
- In recognition that the second Monday of October is Columbus Day, a federal holiday, commissioners decided to hold their October monthly work session the following week, Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m.
- The work session on Sept. 13 was the first observed by Salvatore Siciliano, the new borough solicitor. Siciliano assumed the role from Mario Iavicoli, who retired at the end of August after more than 40 years of service.