Bill to Protect Schools from Fire
To prevent another such disaster as the Cleveland schoolhouse fire, which last spring took a toll of nearly one hundred lives in South Carolina, Representative John B. Duffie, of Sumter, has prepared a bill for the next General Assembly, which meets in January, which, he believes will, if enacted into law, prove effective.
The bill is designed to set up and define minimum safety requirements against fire hazards or stampedes from other causes for pupils in the public schools of South Carolina, and to enforce these requirements it is provided in the bill that no public funds shall be paid out to schools failing to meet these requirements.
The bill has the approval of John J. McMaham, State fire insurance commissioner; Louis Behrens, chief of the Charleston fire department and president of the South Carolina Firemen’s Association, and Jas. A. Hope, State superintendent of education. The text of the proposed measure follows:
“Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina: “Section 1. That it shall he illegal for any county superintendent, school trustee, school treasurer or other disbursing officer, to pay out any money for the maintenance or operation of any public school operated in a schoolhouse of two or more stories not provided with ample means of escape from fire, or stampede from other causes, as hereinafter provided.
“Sec. 2. That from and after the date this act goes into effect no superintendent, trustee, treasurer or other officer disbursing public funds shall be authorized or permitted to pay out such funds, whether state, county, municipal or local, for the construction of any public school building until the plans for the same shall first be approved in writing by the state board of education or some legally authorized agent of said board.
“Sec. 3. That the minimum requirements for safety as required herein shall consist of easy means of exit from not less than two opposite sides of the school building and where in cases of old buildings there is only one stairway, there must be provided, before any school can legally be operated, another stairway for exit on the opposite side of the building, or, a safe ladder securely fastened to the building and extending from one or more windows on the side opposite the stairway, and reaching to within aix feet of the ground. Further, all hall doors shall open outward and each and every school must have at least one fire extinguisher available for use at all times.
“Sec. 4. That no public money may be legally paid out for the maintenance or operation of any public school in a school house where there are banging flues or where the stove pipe runs through the side of the building, or through the window, or through the roof, unless the same be safely encased in a brick flue.
“Sec. 5. The county superintendent of education is specifically charged with the duty of inspecting all schools under his jurisdiction and shall at least once a year make report as to the physical condition of the same to the county board of education.
“Sec. 6. The state superintendent of education, upon proper showing made by the county superintendent of education that the regulations herein have been complied with, is authorized and required to issue to all public schools complying with the terms of this act a suitable certificate to the effect that such public school is legally operated according to law and said certificate when so issued shall be authority for obtaining all public moneys for the operation and maintenance of any such public school and no public moneys shall be paid out until such certificate shall first be filed with the officer charged with the disbursement of such funds.
“$ec. 7. All arts or parts of acts inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed; this act shall take effect July 1, 1924.”