Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
May 26, 2016
Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications
Office of the County Executive (845) 638-5645
State asks Rockland County to take over fire inspections at some private schools
POMONA, NY – Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski announced Thursday that the state has asked Rockland County to perform fire inspections at 49 private schools.
These schools are located all over the county with the majority of them in Ramapo and Spring Valley.
The inspections will begin Friday, Day said.
"This is a great victory for children of Rockland County, who will now be safe when they are at school," he said. "We have been asking for a long time for the authority to do these inspections and it took a bipartisan effort to make this a reality."
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, whose district includes part of Ramapo, said:
"This order is finally a victory for school safety. Hundreds if not thousands of kids are learning in potentially unsafe buildings and we cannot guarantee their safety unless they are inspected by qualified fire personnel. I thank the Commissioner for listening to my pleas and stepping up for both the kids in these schools and the communities they reside in."
Both Day and Zebrowksi have been calling publicly for the state to take action to improve safety in private schools after the schools failed to comply with regulations.
Failure to meet fire codes puts children and staff at risk and also endangers the lives of first responders, Day said.
"There is one set of rules and everyone has to follow them," Day said. "No one is exempt."
New York state Department of Education commissioner MaryEllen Elia requested that Rockland County inspect 26 schools that have not filed safety reports despite being asked to do so repeatedly.
She also asked the county to re-inspect 23 schools that had been inspected by the Town of Ramapo fire inspector.
Four of those schools that were given passing marks by the Ramapo inspector were found by the state to have serious fire safety violations.
"It is with the help of local officials, like you, that we can ensure thee health and safety of the children and staff of these schools by getting these important inspections completed," Elia wrote in a letter to Rockland officials.
The inspections will be carried out by a core team of four former or current Rockland fire chiefs and all are state-certified code enforcement officials.
In some cases, they will work in cooperation with local fire inspectors.
Full-time and part-time county employees will carry out the inspections. The inspections will be completed by the end of June.