Teachers and students upset over fire code enforcement

22News found out why these rules are in place

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Teachers and students are upset that the Chicopee Fire Department is forcing them to take down classroom wall decorations. The department said it’s all part of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code, which is designed to make schools safe.

“This code is in place for the safety of mostly the children in the schools, and what it entails is paperwork that is applied to the classroom walls is restricted to certain percentages,” said Fire Prevention Officer Captain Mark Galarneau.

Under the code, 20% of classroom walls can be covered with artwork, visual aids, and posters. Hallways are limited to 10% of the wall, and no paperwork is allowed on stairway walls. Students and teachers complain that these mandates take away from the overall learning environment.

Pam Kania, a teacher at Edward Bellamy Middle School, told 22News, “It’s very strange to see the school without the bulletin boards outside, all the posters, all the morale booster boards we have are all gone from the hallways and inside the classrooms.”

“I’m so used to being like oh this what’s going to help me out, things on the wall, so I’m not asking the teacher; but then I’m not going to have anything there to benefit me,” said Jasmine Leyda, a freshman at Chicopee High School.

However, Captain Galarneau said the code is enforced throughout the entire commonwealth, to help ensure the safety of all students, teachers and firefighters. The Chicopee Fire Department will be working with school administrators to make sure that everyone understands the requirements of the code, and maintains that compliance throughout the school year.