Hartselle BOE approves fire safety changesPublished 12:02pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The Hartselle Board of Education has approved a $126,763 change at the new Hartselle High School, which will give the Hartselle Fire Department better access to the building in the event of an emergency.
The changes, which were approved by a 4-1 vote, will widen portions of driveway loop in front of the school. The order also adds a gravel road and a fire hydrant on the south side of the school.
These changes were at the request of Hartselle Fire Chief Steve Shelton and the state fire marshal’s office. Baggett Construction, the contractor for the main building, will perform the construction.
HHS project manager Jim Maynard of Martin and Cobey Construction said the cost of widening the loop to 20 feet would be $31,605 of the total. That includes moving irrigation, resodding and widening the road.
Board member Jennifer Sittason cast the only no vote because the she felt the issue with the loop should have been brought up long before the school was completed.
“The state building commission signed off on our plans a long time ago,” Sittason said. “That should have been brought up before we ever started. I don’t know why this has become an issue now.”
Board President Dr. James Joy said these issues were brought to his attention by then Superintendent Mike Reed in late April. Classes began at the school on April 1.
Joy said the issue with the loop is that the entrance and exit are too narrow.
“They’re 18 feet wide when they should be 20 feet wide,” Joy said. “It clearly was a design flaw, but it wasn’t caught until we were in the school for nearly a month.”
Shelton told the board during a called meeting Tuesday that he wasn’t asking anything special for the loop.
“All we’re asking for is the 20-foot minimum,” Shelton said.
Maynard said the rest of the project will add a gravel road on the south side of the building, which will connect the loop at the IRC entrance and the bus lane behind the cafeteria. They are also installing a fire hydrant along the gravel road to have better access to water.
“If the local fire department required the changes that have been noted, then we have complied,” said interim School Superintendent Dr. Nancy Horton.
Horton said the school board will be responsible for all of the changes. However, she said the system might recoup some of the cost from the Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, which designed the front entrance.
Sittason said safety of the students was a main priority when building the high school.
“This is one of the safest schools in North Alabama,” Sittason said. “The children’s safety has always been a priority for us.”