Rockland County, NY - Day: Comparing Fire Safety At Local Yeshivos To Failing County Building Is “Apples And Oranges”
Rockland County, NY - After weeks of taking local yeshivos to task for their lax attitude towards local fire codes, a news report has surfaced faulting Rockland County Executive Ed Day for having neglected fire safety in a government building that houses county employees.
The report, which aired Tuesday on News 12, showed the crumbling interior of the Sain Building, located on New Hempstead Road just across the street from the Rockland County Courthouse and Day’s office. The building is home to the Rockland County Office of Tourism, County Auditor, Tax Office, Drug Court, and Finance, Budget, Personnel and Insurance departments.
In a VIN News interview, Day said that after finding out one time too many about issues in county government that were carryovers from the previous administration that he knew nothing about, he called a meeting with county department heads and made it clear that he needed to be made aware of any and all problems immediately.
As a result of that meeting, the head of the county safety department told Day that the last inspection performed at the Sain Building had taken place in 2008. All inspections at the facility were suspended at that time by former county executive Scott Vanderhoef for financial reasons, said Day.
While there is no requirement for county office buildings to file fire safety reports, Day ordered an inspection of the Sain Building. The most recent one, dated May 16, 2016, listed numerous problems, including stairways lacking labels to assistant employees and first responders, smoke detectors that exceeded their 10 year life span, residential type smoke detectors in the commercial building, cases of water blocking exits, several exit lights that were missing or had burned out bulbs, improperly operating emergency lights, exposed steel structure beans that were not fireproofed, water damaged rebar in the basement and a “very antiquated” fire alarm system that lacked smoke and heat detection.
“The building is challenged,” said Day, who said that some of the “very minor” fire violations have already been corrected.
“It just in very, very poor shape,” said Day. “Our people are not unsafe, it’s just not an ideal place to work.”
Day said that the situation at the Sain Building is different than that at local yeshivos, where administrators have full say over operations. Day said that he has pushed hard to have county employees relocated to a different facility but has been blocked at every turn by the Democratic-controlled legislature.
“I’m in fiscal limbo here right now,” said Day. “We have tried to do some of this with existing resources. We cannot do the major work. Without the capital project, our employees are stuck there.”
Day issued a challenge to those who pounced gleefully on the report of disrepair at the county building, calling him a hypocrite.
“If they are truly concerned about the safety of my employees like I am concerned about the children in their community, I would suggest they speak to their legislators in Ramapo and tell them to move this bill so those employees can be safer. If they are true to their word, I would suspect that they would do that.”
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