News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

Health and safety: It takes a community

The number of full-time Environmental Health and Safety staff members at New Paltz has increased in response to heightened fire, health and safety regulations affecting colleges throughout New York state and the nation.

Brian ColandreaBrian Colandrea arrived on campus in June to serve as director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, replacing Brian McCabe. Kathryn Vacca joined the staff in July as assistant director, a new position. Another new position, which deals directly with fire prevention issues, is currently posted. Ed Kolisz served in that role for four months and is leaving for other career opportunities. Erin Stewart filled another new appointment and provides administrative support for the office.

The increased number of staff members is commensurate with the size of the campus and population. The Environmental Health and Safety Office acts as a campus liaison for regulatory agencies such as the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Department of Labor’s Public Health and Safety Bureau, to maintain regulation compliance.

Kathryn VaccaColandrea said the office is focused on the prevention of fires and other health and safety incidents, and the safety of those who live, work and study on campus.

“One accident or one fire is one too many,” said Colandrea.

Responsibles for Colandrea and his crew include a number of health and safety issues such as air quality, animal control, asbestos and hazardous materials. Fire is the largest single issue the staff deals with, according to Colandrea.

In 2003, New York state initiated new fire code provisions that included expanded fire safety inspections for campuses and allowed the Department of State to assess fines for non-compliance.

Consequently, the State University of New York system and private college campuses are under heightened scrutiny when it comes to fire safety compliance and were directed to increase staff in the areas of health and safety.

Erin StewartIn addition, the college is changing the roles of building coordinators to include routine fire safety inspections to help the Environmental Health and Safety Office. Each building will have a full-time professional staff member serve as building coordinator.

Coordinators will receive training and perform periodic checks of such items as fire extinguisher locations, exit blockage, non-functioning lights and exit signs, use of extension cords and storage of excess combustible materials.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Colandrea. “We’re here to help provide information and assistance.”

For more information, contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office at x3310 or by e-mail at

November 20, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 22

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