Legislators Question 26 Approved Fire Inspections

While the fire inspections of 49 schools were completed this week there appears to be some question about the manner in which they were performed. After months of requesting certain private schools submit completed fire safety reports and discovering some reports were inadequate, Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia gave the county the authority to inspect and in some cases re-inspect 49 schools. Just as the county began those inspections, 26 schools were abruptly pulled from the list and their inspections by local Ramapo Inspectors were accepted. Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, and state Senator David Carlucci both wrote to Commissioner Elia questioning the inspections of those 26 schools that were pulled from the list. Zebrowski said, “I am asking the state to scrutinize the reports and have independent re-checks or spot checks at the very least,” he added, “the way in which they were conducted raises serious questions about the adequacy.” Officials note that there are two state laws at play. New York State educational law mandates a certified fire chief, who provides conditions for inspections and performs the inspections. A number of private schools use a different state Code Enforcement & Administration regulation that allows them to choose an inspector that is not required to be certified but can may inspect as long as a local fire chief is informed and allowed to attend the inspection. The Legislators are urging the SED to strictly review the new fire safety inspections on those 26 schools and to confirm they are in compliance with the Code.

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