Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation (S.4663-B/A.1906-A) to modernize the process of conducting annual fire inspection reports for public and private schools. The bill prohibits unqualified persons from conducting the inspection and requires schools to request inspection from the local fire department or certified fire inspector. The bill also provides schools with flexibility in meeting the public notice requirements associated with these inspections and eliminates the “hold harmless” provision which has allowed inspectors who made errors on an inspection reports to evade liability.
“The safety of our children is a top priority, and while school fire inspections are sometimes perceived as just another administrative requirement, the truth is that lives can be endangered if they aren’t done right,” Governor Cuomo said. “This law will help ensure these inspections are handled by qualified and properly trained individuals, so that students are protected and avoidable tragedies are prevented.”
While current law requires schools to submit an annual fire safety report which includes an inspection of school buildings, there is no recourse for schools who fail to do so. The bill clarifies the current power of the commissioner to deny the certificate of occupancy if a public school fails to correct deficiencies following an inspection. If a private school fails to comply with the requirement, the commissioner must inspect or request a local authority to inspect the building.
Senator David Carlucci said, “School fire inspections keep our children safe and protect our first responders. Our new law will strengthen inspections by ensuring they are done in a timely manner by qualified individuals who are held liable when problems are not corrected. Thank you Governor Cuomo for putting the safety of school children and staff first by signing this bill into law.”
Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski said, “Every school building, public and private, should be safe and up to code. Unfortunately, school inspection regulations have been untouched for decades, leading to an outdated process where some school buildings can be left un-inspected and unsafe. This bill overhauls the process to ensure every school is inspected, by only qualified individuals, with accountability and enforcement. I thank Governor Cuomo for his collaboration on these critical reforms.”
Read the full release here.