Volume 1 Number 12
March 22, 2004









 

 

Florida Public Schools Annual Report FY 2002-2003

FIRE SAFETY IN FLORIDA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The State Fire Marshal’s Office last week released the Florida Public Schools Annual Report FY 2002-2003.  This is the first-ever annual report on the status of fire safety programs in Florida’s public schools.

Responsibility for gathering this information was transferred in 2002 from the Department of Education to the State Fire Marshal.  Under the new law, set out in Chapter 1013 of Florida Statutes, each school district and the local fire marshal in each jurisdiction are required inspect each school during each school year, with the local fire marshal having authority to set and enforce deadlines for correction of violations.  The school district is responsible for reporting the results of the dual inspections to the State Fire Marshal’s Office by June 30 of each year. 

Ben Barron, Fire Protection Specialist for the Division's Bureau of Fire Prevention, discovers a gasoline-powered tractor inside a classroom.  

In jurisdictions that lack fire safety inspection capability, the State Fire Marshal assumes the role of the local fire official.  The law is intended to ensure that every public school, charter school and community college is inspected by an independent fire authority.

“I must say this first report is disappointing,” said Chief Financial Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal.  “One school system reported inspecting less than half of its schools.  Five other school systems reported that they inspected less than 70 percent of their schools, and many others reported inspecting less than 80 percent.  Students deserve better odds.”

School districts must submit their current school year inspection reports by June 30.  Gallagher has said that any school that does not submit an inspection report will face possible closure, and that schools in which life-threatening violations are allowed to persist will face the same prospect.  

A summary of the findings and a database of violations cited at each inspected school are available at http://www.MyFloridaCFO.com/SFM/PublicSchoolsReports_FY_2002-03.htm.  The summary lists the top three violations found in all schools in each county the schools that did not submit an inspection report.

“The State Fire Marshal’s Office stands ready to help school districts and local fire officials comply with these inspection requirements,” Gallagher said.  “Our first priority must be to ensure a safe environment for students and teachers.”