Assembly Higher Ed Committee Approves Emergency Preparedness Measure
With the start of the fall semester at colleges throughout New Jersey, Assembly members Frederick Scalera, Upendra Chivukula and Pamela R. Lampitt are pushing a bill that would help improve fire safety on campus. The measure (A-1570) received approval 8-0 on Monday from the Assembly Higher Education Committee and now heads to the full Assembly for consideration.
The bill would require every public and independent institution of higher education within the state to disseminate fire safety information about their facilities to students upon initial enrollment, or, if the student is a minor, to both the student and parent or guardian.
“Sadly, even though it’s been more than 10 years now, the Seton Hall University Fire is still fresh in many minds,” said Scalera (D-Bergen/Essex/Passaic). “It’s a tragedy that we’ve continuously learned from and this is yet another example of a common sense measure that has evolved from it.”
“The beginning of school is a time of chaos and excitement,” said Chivukula (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Students are deluged with information which may go in one ear and out the other. It’s important to provide them with this life-saving information that they can refer to.”
“It’s hard enough to watch a child go away to college for the first time,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “Under this bill, at least parents can go home with peace of mind, knowing their children are in good hands and equipped with the proper information to deal with emergencies.”
The information must include, but is not limited to, information on sprinkler systems, evacuation plans and other fire safety measures. The bill would also require New Jersey colleges and universities to disseminate this information to all employees upon initial employment.
The Commission on Higher Education, in consultation with the Division of Fire Safety in the Department of Community Affairs, would be responsible for developing guidelines to implement this bill, including the identification of other pertinent fire safety information to be disseminated and the appropriate means of disseminating the information to students, parents or guardians, and employees.