Ex-Rockland fire coordinator calls on state to address school safety

<p>The former Rockland County fire coordinator is calling on the state to address school safety issues.</p>

News 12 Staff

Aug 23, 2018, 9:34 PM

Updated 2,158 days ago

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The former Rockland County fire coordinator is calling on the state to address school safety issues.
The call comes after the town of Ramapo asked a judge to shut down a private school in Monsey that's operating illegally with no certificate of occupancy.
Retired Rockland Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren says there are numerous private schools in the town of Ramapo with major violations that are still receiving state funding.
Wren says he met with Paul Martin, the chief inspector for the New York state Fire Prevention and Control, and he took him to about a dozen schools.
One of the stops was at a private school News 12 reported on in the past. It's made up of temporary trailers on Summit Park Road. Last year, emergency crews found the building operating without its own electricity or water while hundreds of girls were inside.The school has since fixed those violations, but kids are still learning in trailers because the village of New Hempstead recently gave the school an extension to build.
The state inspector also stopped by an all-girls school on Route 306 in Monsey. Ramapo inspectors say they found violations. They say it has also been operating without a certificate of occupancy and hasn't submitted a fire safety report to the state in two years.
The end of the tour was at a private school on Saddle River Road in Airmont, where the only way in was a narrow road with little to no room to turn around.
"I said, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘How in the world was this allowed to happen? This is bad. I need an army of inspectors to tackle this problem,’” said Wren.
The “army of inspectors” never showed up.

Wren says when he eventually did speak to them, they couldn’t do anything because there weren’t enough inspectors.  He says he hasn’t heard from them since.
He's now calling on the state to help protect the children attending these schools.
"There's going to be a lot of blame to spread around, and it’s going to spread to the highest levels of state government,” says Wren.
News 12 reached out to the state Education Department, which released a statement saying, "All three schools are eligible for reimbursement for certain expenses under state law. The aid they receive would not be impacted by citations by a county, unless and until the school closed."


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