Town of North Hempstead officials opened the newly renovated pool at Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park in June despite being issued violations by the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s office for missing equipment, and still have not corrected the violations, said officials from the fire marshal’s office.
Fire marshals visited the pool on June 29, the day before its scheduled reopening, and noticed that workers were installing a fire alarm system, fire detection system and water sprinkler system that hadn’t been tested or approved by the fire marshal, said Michael Uttaro, Nassau County assistant chief fire marshal. Fire marshals said town workers were told the pool should not be opened without either of the systems functioning.
“There are a lot of combustible components in there [the pool], and you need it [a fire alarm] to notify occupants if there’s a situation where they need to evacuate,” Uttaro said Wednesday about the structure at the pool.
On June 29, the fire marshal cited the town for two violations for failure to install the fire alarm and sprinkler systems. The fire marshal’s office has assessed no fines for the noncompliance. According to the violation order, the fire marshal can assess a penalty up to $1,000 per violation, but only after taking the town to court and securing a conviction.
Supervisor Judi Bosworth did not respond to questions about the fire alarm and sprinkler systems, but the town issued a statement Wednesday.
“The pool was opened with a fire watch system in place, which is permissible and safe,” spokeswoman Carole Trottere said in the statement. “The contractors are still on site finishing up. The fire alarm and sprinkler systems will be completed before they leave.”
Town council members did not return phone calls seeking comment about the pool.
The town’s building department issued a certificate of occupancy that allowed the pool to open. Uttaro said Thursday that it is troubling that fire marshals issued the violation in June and that the town still hasn’t had the fire alarms tested and approved.
Uttaro said the fire marshal’s office has set no deadline for the town to address the violations and acknowledged that because the certificate of occupancy has already been issued, the fire and water sprinkler systems could go unapproved for the remainder of the summer while the pool — which closes for the season on Sept. 3 — remains open.
Until all three systems are approved, the company the town hired to install the systems has assigned staffers to monitor the site.
“A 24-hour human fire watch is an accepted fire safety system used while the fire suppression system is being completed,” said Victor Thomas, deputy commissioner of the town’s public works department. “This has been an acceptable practice in the past and the town would never risk the safety of its residents, employees and its facilities.”
Uttaro said marshals typically issue a dozen missing fire alarm violations per year for retail and residential buildings, but it’s “super rare” that they issue one for a town or village.
“It’s not a normal, daily occurrence that we have to tell a municipality that ‘Hey, you’re in violation,’ ” he said. “But, to be fair to the town, I know that they were under intense pressure from constituents to get that pool opened.”