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12/30/2012 11:00 PM

Preparedness Needs to be Constant

Today I join in your sadness after the tragic events in Newtown. I hear parents saying they better do something about security in our schools. I'm here to tell you we can't just say it anymore, we have to demand it, we'll go to BOE meetings and yell it if we have to. This is a war on terror being carried out in our communities against our most precious resource, our children. It's been 13 years since Columbine when sweeping changes in school security began. Where were these changes in North Branford schools? Back in 2000, the state amended its statute that allowed schools to substitute for their monthly fire drills Crisis Response Drills (also called lockdown drills), which encompass many emergencies including someone determined to cause harm. I have three children in the school system and they've never done this type of drill. Why not, when fire drills are conducted constantly?

I'm a lieutenant on the New Haven Fire Department so here's a little inside information. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, there has never been a recorded death due to fire in any building with a functioning fire alarm and sprinkler system, anywhere, ever, so focusing strictly on fire drills is not going to keep our children safe from what's likely to harm to them.

Newtown had prepared for something like this and still lost those children. What people don't realize is countless lives were saved that day by being prepared. I believe vigilance and preparedness needs to be constant for when an emergency does occur. I've heard things like, "It's costly to implement certain safety measures." I have to ask all of your readers: What's a child's life worth? Most will agree-protect them at any cost.

Gary W. ColeNorthford