Firefighters remove trees from chimney at library

STEUBENVILLE – Firefighter Dave “Pounder” Coladonato reached for and started tugging at a small tree growing out of the main library’s chimney on South Fourth Street.

Then he used his hook to dig the roots out of the crack where the tree had sprouted.

Another job well done by the city firefighters who had volunteered to remove the plants that had been growing from the library’s north chimney.

Coladonato and Capt. Chris Allen rode the ladder truck platform 80 feet into the air Wednesday morning during a combination training exercise and public service project after hearing about the small trees that had taken root at several spots on the chimney.

“There is still a small tree growing inside of the chimney that we couldn’t reach, but we sprayed it with weed killer, and hopefully, that will take care of the problem,” Coladonato said at the end of the hour-long exercise.

Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi heard about the tree issue last week when Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County Director Alan Hall mentioned his frustration in finding someone to remove the small trees.

“That is a good training exercise for us and we can help the library remove a problem,” said Capaldi.

So on a sunny Wednesday morning Assistant Fire Chief Frank DeLeonardis, Capts. Dave Sullivan and Allen and firefighters Coladonato, Gray Nagy and Matt Ulasiewicz carefully maneuvered the department’s ladder truck on South Street to allow them to extend the ladder to the top of the chimney.

“This a good chance for us to use the ladder truck in a non-emergency training exercise. That is important so we maintain our tactical skills in operating this particular truck and the ladder when we do encounter an emergency,” explained Nagy.

Nagy kept one of the tree cuttings to plant at his residence.

“I believe it is an apple tree. It is some type of fruit tree. So I will work with it and see if I can get it to grow at home,” Nagy noted.

Hall said a famous tree grew for several years in the south chimney before it was removed in 1996.

“That tree continued to grow for 41 years before we were able to remove it when we rebuilt the chimney. We also sealed off that chimney because it was no longer used. But this chimney is still used so we can’t seal it,” Hall explained.

After the 41-year-old tree was removed Hall replanted it in his garden where it is still growing.

“When the library was built in 1902 I doubt anyone thought about trees growing out of the chimneys. But birds land up there and drop seeds so we have plantings growing out of the cracks. I wish Gray luck in getting his tree to flourish,” said Hall.

“And maybe we can do something about his late book fines,” laughed Hall.

“I greatly appreciate the cooperation and their help with this project. I thank the firefighters for going to great heights to solve our problem,” he added.