Law requires colleges disclose fire safety info. to new students

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on July 25 requiring colleges to disclose fire safety and sprinkler system information in writing for students living in school owned or operated housing. The new law took effect immediately after being signed.

"This bill gives parents and students proper information so they can make the safest and most informative decision when choosing college housing," said Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Rochester, sponsor of the bill in the Senate. "I applaud Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill in to law and hope it will ease the minds of parents across New York state."

Notifications must now be made available to students regarding the fire safety system for any particular housing facility, including whether or not the facility has a sprinkler system - though state law requires all new housing units to have a sprinkler system installed.

The information will be provided to students and families in housing packets, according Steve Barz, Robach's director of communications. He noted this was the first attempt at passing this legislation in New York.

The legislation (A.5715-a/S.4180-a) is also known as the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act, named for Kerry Rose Fitzsimons, a Marist student who died in a fire in her off-campus housing back in January 2012 along with her friends Eva Block and Kevin Johnson.

"It was a tragedy for our entire state when Marist student Kerry Rose Fitzsimons and two other young people lost their lives in a fire last year," said the governor. "This new law will improve fire safety awareness for our college students so we can prevent tragic incidents like this again."

Fitzsimons' family and friends have started a college fire safety education foundation called the Kerry Rose Foundation.

Patrick Dolan, president of the Enterprise Association for Steamfitters Local 638, said the chapter is grateful to Cuomo and the state Legislature for signing this bill into law. The union advocated for the law this past session because a member of the union had a child who died in the fire at Marist College.

"This is a very good bill, a common sense bill," said Dolan. "This will make a large difference in many people's lives." Dolan explained the relief the law's signing gave him with his son attending Fordham University. "That's what the Fitzsimons [family] did, they accepted their daughter was dead and what they wanted was to have a law passed that made a difference in people's lives."

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, D-Jackson Heights, who sponsored the Assembly bill, said, "I want to thank the family of Kerry Rose Fitzsimons for starting the Kerry Rose Foundation to educate students and parents about the importance of fire safety.

"I firmly believe that college students and their families have the right to be informed of matters concerning their personal safety and in this case, fire safety, so hopefully there will be significant reductions in fatalities or injuries due to fires," DenDekker said.

Story provided by:  www.legislativegazette.com