New Paltz Fire Safety Day Doused by Flood

The annual Campus Fire Safety Awareness Day was canceled this year due to an overwhelming amount of emergency calls in the wake of Hurricane Irene and subsequent flooding.

“Campus Fire Safety Day was canceled because of the impact that Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee had on the campus and the surrounding areas,” said SUNY New Paltz Director of Environmental Safety Mike Malloy.  “Some roads are impassible even today.”

Agencies involved were mobilized to help with relief in the Hudson Valley.

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control was mobilized for recovery efforts in Schoharie County, according to Scott Schulte, assistant director of fire safety on campus. He said the New Paltz Police Department was similarly preoccupied with an overwhelming amount of emergency calls over the two-week period.

“Facilities Operations and the State University Police have been working night and day, attending to thousands of calls for assistance since the beginning of the month,” Schulte said.

Recovery is still in-process on campus as services and offices slowly begin to pick up where they left off, according to several NP Mail messages.

“Myself and Chief David Dugatkin of the State University Police served as emergency incident commanders of the Emergency Management Team, and the rest of my department [as well as myself] have been assisting the rest of the campus in recovery from flooding, focusing heavily on environmental safety,” Malloy said.  “We have been focusing mainly on the recovery work in Haggerty Administration Building the Atrium and the Student Union.”

All those involved in campus cleanup were hit hard early in the semester and it’s been a challenging recovery, according to Dave Serino, assistant director of Environmental Health and Safety. He said resources were stretched thin to do teams responding to emergency throughout the region.

“It has been a hell of a few days here on campus and most of my team, including myself, spent the nights here—as well throughout the storms,” Malloy said.

Those in charge of the event said it will not be rescheduled due to the emergency calls inundating police departments everywhere in the region. They said the campus will have to wait until fall 2012.

“While Campus Fire Safety Awareness Day is the best opportunity for the Fire Department, State Fire, EH&S, the State University Police, in addition to numerous other safety-related agencies, to interact with the campus community—and it provides us with the most appropriate forum to offer a wide variety of programs and events that engage the students and staff in safety minded topics, we understood that rescheduling the event would be next to impossible,” Schulte said.

While Campus Fire Safety Awareness Day will not take place this year, it is important to recall the issues and advice brought to campus in the past about fire safety.

“The most important thing that we try to teach all community members about fire safety is that the danger is real and ever-present,” said Schulte.