Think about it. Are your kids safe? Do your local schools meet codes?

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Mount Anthony Union High School has been
cited for 50 fire code violations, which could curtail the use of
classrooms, the gymnasium and auditorium.
The worst infractions are the lack of alternate escape routes in
case of fire in 44 classrooms and unsafe evacuation conditions in
the gym and auditorium, said Michael J. Skaza, assistant state fire
marshal.
"There are some rooms we'll need to limit the use of," he said
Tuesday. "Classrooms which don't have a rescue window need a
second way out."
The report, disclosed Monday, directed the MAU school board to
submit a plan for correcting the problems by May 30.
James Marsden, director of facilities and grounds, said he has
been trying to get a clarifications from the labor and industry
inspectors on what problems might resolved by installing a
sprinkler system.
School officials have already started working on a plan, hiring
a design firm to assist, said Skaza.
"We are anxious to hear what their plan will suggest," Skaza
said.
Other areas highlighted in the report include the high school's
gymnasium and the auditorium.
The total seating capacity of the gym is rated at 1,501, when
the bleacher seats and floor space are filled to capacity. The
bleachers alone can hold 792, according to the report.
Nevertheless, that exceeds the rate at which people can be
safely evacuated in the event of a fire, and the report limits the
number of occupants to 600 until improvements are made.
Lack of adequate exits from the auditorium is also a problem,
the report said. No more than 640 people should be in the room
until more alternate escape routes are developed, Skaza said.
Changes to the existing stairwells may also be necessary to
allow for speedier evacuation, he added.
The inspection was performed on Feb. 19, almost two weeks after
a fire broke out at the Career Development Center, causing
approximately $100,000 in damage, according to a building permit
filed with the town of Bennington. There was no connection between
the inspection and the fire, Skaza said.
Many of the violations listed in the report can be taken care of
by installing sprinklers, or rooms could be brought up to the
current fire code standards on a piecemeal basis, Marsden said.
Installing a sprinkler system is a major undertaking and one
that could not realistically begin until June 2004, he said.
The prospect of waiting that long made some directors
uncomfortable.
"The safety of the kids is paramount," said MAU Board Chairman
Richard Pembroke Jr. "This is of enough importance that it needs
to be put at the highest level. I'm not willing to accept that we
can't do it this summer."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)