City schools get thumbs up for safety

Nashua schools are some of the safest in New England, according to Fire Chief Roger Hatfield and city emergency preparedness director Ed Lecius.

Hatfield and Lecius told the Board of Education on Tuesday night that they have an all-hazards plan designed to protect students in any emergency.

“We are prepared in the event of any situation that arrives,” Lecius said.

Hatfield and Lecius said Nashua is on the cutting edge of safety, partially due to the existence of a bomb squad, a S.W.A.T. team and a dive team. Except for Boston, Nashua is the only community in New England with a bomb squad, Lecius said.

Hatfield said an emergency master plan was created for each Nashua school after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Local officials looked far beyond fire drills, to every possible safety precaution, he said.

“They couldn’t have been more proactive; they jumped into it,” Superintendent Joseph Giuliano said.

School board President Kim Shaw asked Hatfield and Lecius if they were prepared to handle a situation like Columbine. Hatfield said they have worked out plans for every possible scenario and have simulated such situations with the S.W.A.T. team to ensure their readiness.

“In the event of any situation, fire-led or police-led, we have plans and contingencies,” Lecius said.

Although Hatfield and Lecius would not divulge specifics of the safety preparedness plans, they confirmed the plans are updated annually.

“We are an extremely proactive city and we’re going to continue to be a proactive city,” Hatfield said.

The two officials said part of this effort is making sure parents and teachers feel comfortable with emergency plans. Lecius suggested that this may sometimes be difficult because plan details are not released to the public, and added that he is available to talk to anyone who has concerns.

Hatfield and Lecius met last month with school principals to look at plans and exchange ideas. Lecius said it is important to make sure they are comfortable with a safety plan before an emergency occurs.

Hatfield and Lecius are to meet Thursday with a parent teacher organization to address their safety concerns.

Hatfield said they will continue to work with parents, teachers, administrators and the school board in an effort to protect Nashua children.