NYFD Cites School on 8 Violations after Lab Fire
Beacon High School in Manhattan was cited for eight violations as the result of an investigation by the New York Fire Department into a lab fire that left one student in critical condition.
About the New York Classroom Fire
- According to the New York Times, a Beacon High School teacher was conducting a demonstration in which different chemicals were burned to show how different substances produce different color flames.
- During the experiment, fumes from methanol being used by the teacher ignited sending a snakelike flame through the air. Though the flare missed students closed to the desk, two other students, Alonzo Yanes, 16, and Julia Saltonstall, 16, were engulfed in flames.
- While Julia was fortunate in suffering only first-degree burns as her T-shirt and hair went up in smoke, Alonso was not so lucky.
- According to witnesses, the fire enveloped Alonzo reportedly searing and melting the skin on his face and body. He is currently listed in critical condition in the New York – Presbyterian Hospital’s burn unit.
School Cited in Lab Fire Investigation
“The kinds of problems that the Fire Department found at the Beacon school are the tip of the iceberg.” – James A. Kaufman, founder and president of the Laboratory Safety Institute as published by the New York Times
- Investigations into the incident revealed a plethora of safety violations and hazards.
- Officials with the NYFD found that dangerous chemicals at the school were being stored in an unsafe manner and that safety equipment and practices were lacking.
- The school has been given 10 days to correct some of the fire safety and building code violations, but officials decided not to issue a “cease and desist” order that would have closed the schools science labs.
- Experts, however, warn that the conditions at the Manhattan high school are far from rare. Surveys have found that lab accident rates at schools are 10 to 100 times higher than in industry labs due to poor safety education.
- Currently, only seven states require lab safety education as part of the written requirements for science teacher certification meaning that many teachers are not aware of even the most common safety hazards.
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