Rockland officials newly empowered by the state to inspect private schools for fire and safety code violations made their first stop Thursday afternoon at a local Yeshiva.
When Rockland County Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren Jr. entered the Yeshiva Shaarei Arazim at 900 Route 45 in Ramapo, he told reporters, he immediately noticed the push bars on two of the doors did not work and the doors did not open, a clear violation. He was accompanied by Spring Valley Fire Inspector Frank Youngman, who is also a Hillcrest firefighter.
A school official, who would not give his name, allowed Wren and Youngman into the building but asked reporters to leave the property. A siren later signaled that the school’s alarm system was being tested. The inspectors were still on scene at 4 p.m., and their full findings were not yet clear.
At a press conference earlier in the day, officials vowed no mercy Thursday on administrators who block access to buildings, and promised heavy fines and possible jail for operators who run schools with serious safety issues.
“We will be relentless,” County Executive Ed Day said at a news conference announcing the inspections. “We are not of the mind to keep schools open with serious violations. We’re asking every school to comply with the law.”
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