Update for the Haverhill School Family
I write to you today so that all in our city will know what has happened this past week in our school facilities, and so that you hear the facts and not the fiction that sometimes gets associated with incidents such as these.
Three of our schools had broken pipes – Haverhill High School had three locations – Pentucket two locations – these two sites had damage contained by crews that were alerted by newer detection systems. The Consentino had three locations and the detection systems there are from a different era and thus not capable of detecting such changes with pressure or steam issues. The Principal of the Consentino, John Mele, upon checking his building early Monday morning, discovered the massive damage that resulted from a burst pipe in a second floor classroom. Water poured into the school library and adjacent corridor causing the ceiling system to fail. Asbestos-containing sprayed-on fireproofing located above the ceiling in some areas was saturated, and there was a risk of contamination if it remained in place. In the second floor classroom where the leak occurred, asbestos-containing floor tiles delaminated from the concrete floor and were removed. The elevator system has suffered much damage and is still being assessed.
Despite the fact that all buildings had heating values turned up – the below normal freezing levels were extreme for some of our facilities. Had it not been for the efforts of many during that freezing period other issues would have surfaced.
Under the immediate direction of Tom Geary, Supervisor of Facilities, the proper personnel and outside resources were immediately secured so that damage could be minimized. Each and every safety protocol mandated by state and federal laws have been followed to the letter. This effort included the appropriate school representatives meeting with and consulting hourly with an environmental firm and an asbestos abatement contractor. This team evaluated conditions and developed a plan for removing damaged and potentially contaminated materials safely and in accordance with federal and state regulations. An emergency waiver was obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to proceed with asbestos abatement immediately. This state agency made multiple site visits and were most helpful with this recovery effort. Asbestos removal activities and associated demolition work were performed inside a series of negative pressure containments by Massachusetts-licensed asbestos workers. Massachusetts-licensed Asbestos Project Monitors provided oversight during removal activities, and upon completion of removal, performed visual inspections and clearance air sampling in each containment. All air samples collected were found to be below federal and state clearance standards prior to the teardown of each containment. The complete, detailed, lab report prepared by ProScience Analytical Services and our environmental consultant is available on the Haverhill Public School’s webpage.
I am most grateful to Tom Geary, John Mele, and the men and women who worked around the clock for seven days to allow the Consentino to reopen tomorrow morning. As Superintendent, I want to publicly thank our Mayor James Fiorentini for his support, the Haverhill Fire Department and their Chief Jack Parow, our school system’s custodial and facility staff, Haverhill’s Director of Inspectional Services, Richard MacDonald and his staff along with the staff of Axiom Partners, One Source Environmental, Dan Durkin the owner of One Call Facilities Services for their efforts, and Chuck Traver of James Page Insurance. I have kept the Haverhill School Committee apprised of the progress of the efforts and thank them for their support. As a result, every inch of the Consentino School has been scrubbed and is ready to to welcome students back.
The school library will remain closed while work continues during the evening hours. Students, upon entering Monday, will see one corridor area with approximately 210 feet of exposed ceiling area where beams, concrete, conduit, and computer wiring are visible.
Again, I am most grateful to all who have managed and worked around the clock to transform this unfortunate incident so that the children and staff at the Consentino and other schools can return to school safely Monday. I hope that all families and staff have had a good change this past week and your understanding and support is most appreciated.
James F Scully
Superintendent of Schools