POMONA, N.Y. -- Rockland County was granted permission by the state Education Commissioner to conduct the fire inspections of 49 private schools, the bulk of them in Ramapo and Spring Valley, locals officials announced at a press conference today.
Four former or current Rockland County fire chiefs who are state-certified code enforcement officials will begin conducting inspections on May 27, something County Executive Ed Day said will be managed within the county's budget and at no additional cost to the taxpayers.
"Starting tomorrow, our certified inspectors will be taking a look at 26 schools county-wide that have not filed safety reports despite being asked repeatedly to do so," Day said, alongside Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and the director of the County Department of Fire and Emergency Gordon Wren, Jr.
The county inspectors will also visit 23 private schools that were previously given passing marks by suspended Ramapo Fire Inspector Adam Peltz despite the presence of violations such as inoperable exit signs, electrical panels with no covers, and exposed wiring, Day said.
Day declined to name the schools to avoid tipping them off but estimated roughly eight to 10 of the private schools that will be inspected are located outside the town of Ramapo. These inadequately inspected buildings pose a threat to the roughly several thousand children who attend them and to first responders, Day said.
"It's baffling that kids are going to school today in structures that have not been inspected. And when there is a fire, because there will be one at some point, there will be a lot of blame to go around, so why would we not prevent that now," Zebrowski said.
If all goes according to plan, and there are no delays or trouble getting into these schools-Day said a process is in place to obtain warrants to gain entry if need be-the inspections themselves will take two to three weeks, and another week or so to prepare a report, Wren said.
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