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Gaps in fire code endanger local schools

Original post made on Oct 2, 2012

Menlo Park district firefighter Eric McGlennon rolls up a fire hose Sept. 13 after a fire destroyed a Beechwood School portable building used for administrative offices and the third-grade classroom. ==I Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac.==

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 3:00 PM

Comments (3)

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Posted by Let's Enforce The Fire Code
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm

It is so nice that Ms. Kiraly and her husband is going to set up a non-profit for this project. Let's also have the Fire District enforce Menlo Park's and the state of California Fire code, specifically written for schools. Warnings and cutting corners don't stop fires and don't save lives. Don't built it, unless you can afford it. As the chief said, how many of these schools have temporary structures that should not be used as school classrooms.

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Posted by tony ansaldo
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2012 at 4:10 am

I've researched this issue. I've been able to find a double fire fatality at a public k-12 school in a single incident, during school hours, in the USA, in the 1950's. None since then. Does anyone have other information? Student safety is an important issue. When examining the entire issue, fire risk seems to well under control. Bigger threats seem to be hurricanes, tornados, flooding, acts of terror, fire arms.

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Posted by Virginia Chang Kiraly
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

Tony: While I appreciate your comment, what will it take to ensure that our students and, equally important, school property and neighborhoods are safe? 92 children and 3 teachers dead, which is what happened in a 1958 Chicago school fire?

I recommend that you read the book "To Sleep With Angels," which is the story about the above fire I mention and to which you probably refer. The Chicago ordinance language at that time is incredibly similar- eerily similar- to the California legislation today, which resulted from a 1997 fire in my fire district community ("Green Oaks Family Academy Act"). The CA legislation was so watered down that it didn't even help the school, Green Oaks Academy- a public school, that it intended to help!

Thankfully, in CA, schools built after 2008 are required to have monitored alarm systems that would notify a first responder. However, there are many schools in CA built before 2008 that are vulnerable. Unfortunately, two of them here in my community and within the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, caught fire (in a 13-month timeframe) and suffered damage to school property, not to mention the mental anguish and displacement of students, who could not attend school (Beechwood School) for days. Both times, the only way that firefighters knew about the fire was that a watchful neighbor called in the fire for a response. Thankfully, no one was hurt in either fire.

I'd rather go with notification and response than destruction and despair!

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