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School Fire Safety Shifts from Education to State Fire Marshal

7/1/2002

TALLAHASSEE - Responsibility for keeping Florida's public schools in compliance with the state fire safety code will shift from the Department of Education to the Office of State Fire Marshal today.

Effective July 1, 2002, a new law (HB 443), passed during the 2002 legislative session, charges the State Fire Marshal with ensuring that schools and other educational facilities are inspected annually for compliance with Florida's fire safety standards, that fire inspectors are certified and that prompt corrective action is taken when a public school is found to be unsafe.

"Some schools may have to work toward compliance, but we first need to have procedures in place so that everyone involved will know what to expect," said Florida Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher. "We'll have to prioritize our resources to ensure that public schools are where they need to be. Kids have the right to a safe place to learn, teachers need a safe place to teach, and parents need to know that their child's classroom is not a fire safety hazard."

Under the new law, local school boards and community college boards of trustees must cooperate with the local fire official responsible for inspections. The local fire official is charged with enforcing the state's fire safety standards. If a county does not employ or appoint a local fire official, the State Fire Marshal must assume the duties of inspecting educational facilities and take corrective action when necessary.

Of Florida's 67 counties, at least 31 will require the State Fire Marshal to conduct public school inspections. Either there is no local fire authority in all parts of these 31 counties, or the local volunteer fire departments lack personnel certified to conduct the inspections.

Eight workshops on the changes have been scheduled for July at school board and community college facilities statewide. Below is the schedule:

1. July 16, 2002 at 8:15–10:30 5. July 18, 2002 at 1:30-4:00

PLACE: Osceola County Schools PLACE: Gaither High School

401 Simpson Rd, Transportation Bldg 16200 N Dale Mabry Highway

KISSIMMEE, Florida 34744 TAMPA, Florida 33618

2. July 16, 2002 at 1:30–4:00 6. July 29, 2002 at 9:00-11:30

PLACE: Martin County High School PLACE: Tallahassee Comm. College

2801 S Kanner Highway Mth/Sci Bldg Room 152,

STUART, Florida 34994 444 Appleyard Drive

3. July 17, 2002 at 9:00-12:00 TALLAHASSEE, Florida 32304

PLACE: 12525 NW 28th Ave 7. July 30, 2002 at 10:00 – 12:00

Maintenance & Operations Central Office PLACE: Fleming Island Elementary School

MIAMI, Florida 33167 4425 Lake Shore Drive

4. July 18, 2002 at 8:15-10:30 ORANGE PARK, Florida 32003

PLACE: Sarasota County Technical Institute 8. July 31, 2002 at 10:00-12:00

Building 29 PLACE: Chipley High School

4748 Beneva Road 680 2nd Street

SARASOTA, Florida 34233-4521 CHIPLEY, Florida 32428