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School district's buildings pass fire safety check

The Niagara Falls School District was the first in the state to receive certificates of occupancy this year because its buildings are in such good shape.

Lawrence Beyer, the district operations and maintenance administrator, told the School Board on Thursday that when city firefighters checked out district facilities in October, they found "no notable problems."

He said each district building was declared safe for children and in compliance with state fire codes.

Board member Jeanette Stypa was skeptical that the schools were the first in the state to receive certificates of occupancy.

"How do you know that?" she asked Beyer.

"Because I called [the state] and was told that," he replied.

Gregory Colangelo, the Fire Department's chief of fire prevention, said, "There were no major problems, just little ones that aren't worthy of note."

"There were only little problems -- things we can get rid of, totally," Colangelo said. "We have a problem with people using door wedges to keep fire doors open. They were removed. I don't think [school staffs] even know they can't do this because they didn't even try to hide it" during inspections, he said.

Colangelo said fire inspectors also discovered about a dozen instances in which teachers relied on extension cords. He said this could be dangerous because extension cords are only meant to be used temporarily. He noted that over time they become brittle, short out and can cause a fire.

He urged staffers to contact Beyer for "an alternative method of providing electricity."

Also, he said many classrooms have too many papers hanging on the walls and on classroom doors, a code violation.

He said firefighters and maintenance workers were required by state law to take them down. He also urged teachers to avoid overdoing it when posting papers.

"We just need to keep a balance and not let things get out of control," he said.

Board member Mark Zito also mentioned that district cafeterias received high marks.

"There are some very notable Western New York restaurants that don't do as well," he said.


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