Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski announced a piece of legislation on Friday that aims to overhaul the law governing school fire safety reports to ensure adequate inspections take place and that reports are filed in a timely manner.
The legislation addresses the lack of recourse for schools that do no comply in a timely fashion to submit an annual fire safety report or do not submit one entirely.
Under Zebrowski’s legislation the state Commissioner of Education would be granted several powers to compel public and private schools to submit annual fire safety reports. He is also calling for trained officials to conduct the inspections.
“This legislation empowers the Commissioner to take action and impose penalties for schools that continue to flout the inspection requirement. If a school is unwilling to follow the law, we must put in place specific consequences,” Zebrowski said
The reform legislation includes the following changes:
- Creates course of action for the State Department of Education and mandates the Commissioner have a school inspected if it does not file a fire inspection report within 90 days of the Dec. 16 deadline
- Aid will be withheld from schools that do not permit an inspector inside
- The Commissioner can revoke a certificate of occupancy if the school fails to corrects violations after an inspection
- Fire safety report forms would be sent to schools electronically, and the schools could then post the notice on their website once completed
- Trained individuals (certified fire inspectors, county fire coordinator) would be added to a list of eligible people to conduct inspections. (Under the current law anyone can inspect these buildings.)
- Fire inspectors and the county fire coordinator will be granted the ability to inspect schools they perceive as dangerous
“These reforms are common sense measures that bring our current laws up to date to ensure every child is learning in a safe structure,” Zebrowski said.
In late May the county was granted permission by the state Commissioner of Education to conduct fire inspections at 49 private schools in the county, which Zebrowski and County Executive Ed Day announced.
State Sen. David Carlucci echoed Zebrowski’s sentiments and is considering sponsoring the legislation.
“When parents send their children to school they should have the peace of mind that the school has been properly inspected and is in full compliance. Anything less is simply unacceptable," Carlucci said.
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