MOUNT VERNON — Although the fire department naturally assumes the lead when a conflagration strikes a city, other service agencies, such as the police, have a strong supporting role.
Regarding traffic control, Capt. George Hartz of the Mount Vernon Police Department said that traffic pattern adjustment is largely determined by the needs of the firefighters. “Wherever they need to connect their hoses or park their trucks,” he said, “they are going to tell us what roads they need to have closed off so they can do what they need to do. We assist them, to the best of our ability, to make sure they are safe and bad things are not happening.”
The street department helps, too. “Anything we needed as far as barricades,” Hartz said, “we just called Dave Carpenter at the street department and they delivered all that stuff and set it up. As things are opened, whoever is close moves the barricade down or out of the road and the street department picks them up later. If they or more barricades are not available, we have our caution tape that we put out.
On Monday, MVPD closed Mulberry Street at Gambier Street for a while, Hartz said. Gambier was closed near downtown and Vine was closed. South Main was closed south of Public Square; it was also closed north of the viaduct.
“Whoever is in incident commander, Fire Chief Shawn Christy or Assistant Chief Chris Menapace, he would tell us that intersection was OK to open up, or that officer can move from that area, so we opened the intersection. As police officers, it’s one situation where we are not in control. We are there to supplement.”
This morning Gambier Street from Gay to Mulberry was closed as was South Main from Vine to East Ohio. Those two streets will possibly be closed for several days. The state fire Marshal is in town investigating the fire along with the ATF, Hartz said, and the area will remain closed so the investigators can move freely about the area without worrying about traffic.
Hartz said the MVPD will participate in the investigation portion. “We are obviously going to do what is needed to help figure out what was going on,” he said.