Half of Shelton High School fire code violations now fixed

Another photo of a fire code violation cited at Shelton High School in a report by state fire marshal’s office.
Another photo of a fire code violation cited at Shelton High School in a report by state fire marshal’s office.

Almost half the code violations at Shelton High School cited in a State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFM) report have now been corrected, according to city education officials.

School Supt. Freeman Burr told Board of Education (BOE) members on Wednesday night that 258 of 579 violations mentioned in a 2012 SFM report have been rectified.

Additional work to correct more violations will be completed this summer, including the installation of sprinklers in the main shop area and putting fire doors in certain classrooms.

“We expect 80% — or close to it — to be done by the start of the school year,” Burr said of the violations in the report.

BOE Chairman Mark Holden agreed that a lot of progress has been made. Holden said the violations that remain tend to be the ones that will be more time-consuming and costly to fix.

Outside assistance

Burr said some of the remaining upgrades will require hiring outside engineering expertise and contractors and is beyond the scope of school maintenance and custodial staff.

He continued to stress than many of the problems are related to renovation and expansion work done at the building in the past.

There are “a number of design flaws that go to the design of that building,” said Burr, emphasizing that this design work had been reviewed and approved by the state through an outside expert before it was done.

He said remaining code issues includes “50 penetrations...related to renovation and fire rehabilitation work.”

Hiring outside help will have budgetary implications but education officials indicated the needed funds should be available. The city side of government has allocated some money to do the work, and funds can be shifted within the BOE budget to complete work as well.

Burr said there will need to be coordinating with city officials to complete work with engineers and contractors.

Inspections done in 2011

The SFM report was completed in 2012 and based on inspections done in 2011. It was not publicly released by SFM until April of this year due to the possibility criminal charges could be pursued, but that possibility has now been ruled out.

The investigation into the matter was initiated based on complaints concerning the actions of Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora.

The probe sought “to determine the level of compliance with the fire safety regulations administered by the Office of State Fire Marshal,” according to the letter written by state Fire and Life Safety Supervisor Terry A. Brouwer of SFM.

Brouwer wrote that many of the violations cited “appear to be a result of incomplete or deficient work” performed during the 2006 addition and renovation project at the high school.

It appears some of the problems also involve repair work done to the building after a limited fire occurred in part of the building.

Burr was not working in the Shelton school district when the 2006 renovation project was completed.

Burr, Holden and Mayor Mark Lauretti have all said the Shelton High building is safe for students and staff, and that the SFM report included many minor violations as well as ones of more significance.