SHS fire code violations to be resolved by Aug. 2017

Superintendent of Shelton Schools Dr. Chris Clouet said Shelton High’s remaining fire code violations will be resolved by Aug. 2017.

A State Fire Marshal’s 2012 inspection revealed that the high school had nearly 600 fire code violations at one point. Clouet and Shelton Fire Marshal James Tortora said the remaining number of violations will be resolved after the school’s sprinkler system is repaired.

“Many of the violations were for rather ‘small things’ such as holes in between certain septors of the ceiling above the ceiling panels where wires go through. That’s not to make light of it, anything that is a violation has to be addressed,” said Clouet. “The main thing is that there were classrooms that didn’t have an exit door or a window and no sprinkler system. Now with the sprinkler system coming on board, it will take care of almost every one of the violations.”

Tortora said he didn’t have an exact number of existing fire code violations, but estimated that the total is near 100, give or take a few.

The lengthy process of ridding the school of its fire code violations moved a step closer to being completed as Mayor Mark Lauretti and M J Daly, the company contracted to do the sprinkler repairs, signed a contract late last week.

Tortora said the repairs to the school’s sprinkler system are expected to begin in September and  estimated them to take up to a year to be completed. He said the work will most likely be done during the night hours and weekends while students are out of school.

Tortora assured concerned Aldermen Jim Capra and Noreen McGorty the high school is safe to use in the meantime. He also attributed the high number of violations revealed by the state fire marshal’s report to a different style of inspection.

“They searched through every nook and cranny,” said Tortora.

He added that he also expects the number of violations the school has to decrease next month due to changes in National Fire Prevention Association's definition of what is considered a violation.

“Every three years or so they do a review cycle to determine what is a violation or not. Then they are submitted to the state for them to make revisions,” said Tortora.

Both Capra and McGorty had questions concerning Tortora’s most recently submitted report of inspections. Capra said he had been informed that Tortora’s department was behind an estimated two years worth of inspections.

Tortora responded by saying he had no idea where Capra received his information.

“We could be three years behind, but we’re doing the best we can with what we have,” said Tortora .“The priority buildings we’re pretty much comfortable with, but no one has approached me saying otherwise.”

He added that his department has always been understaffed and could benefit from as many as 12 added staff members, but knows that’s unlikely due to budget constraints. Tortora said he is currently short two part-time code inspectors.

Board of Ed Chairman Mark Holden said the school’s fire code issue is something the board has been aware of and have been making efforts to address but their responsibility is limited.

“We’ve done all of the paperwork as soon as we’ve gotten the paperwork. We’ve really got little input on this,” said Holden.

He said that in the worst case scenario of another fire occurring at the school like the one that in Dec. 2008, while students were on vacation, the city has a rough plan to continue the school year.

“We would probably need to look at using another building in the district and having double sessions,” said Holden. “One group use the school in the morning and the other group use it during the afternoon, but that would be a nightmare. There really isn’t a large enough facility to pick up the slack for something like that.”

Holden said he expects the school’s repairs to run smoothly, but the process could result in the shuffling of classes or the closing of the school’s gym or auditorium for a few days.