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Richmond fire marshal 'not able to comment' on whether he has plan for school inspections

Fox Elementary fire 01.png
Posted at 12:58 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 12:58:56-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When asked if the Richmond Fire Marshal's Office has an annual schedule or plan for school inspections after a scathing city audit from June of 2021 found they did not, a spokesperson for the fire department said "after review, we are not able to comment on your inquiries at this moment."

In that audit, the city auditor found 20 of 48 schools were not inspected in FY2019, and the most recent prior inspections at those schools ranged from FY2006 to FY2018.

Forty schools had unsatisfactory inspections and required re-inspections, but 55 percent of those schools were not re-inspected to ensure the violations were cleared.

The auditor wrote, "Schools that are not inspected along with unaddressed violations could threaten the life safety of staff and students. If these risks are not mitigated it could result in damage to property or more seriously, injury or loss of life of staff and students."

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Fox Elementary fire drone 08.jpg
Aerial photos show the devastation a fire caused at Fox Elementary School in Richmond, Va.

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The Richmond Fire Marshall is Earl Dyer.

As of December of last year, all 13 of the auditor's recommendations to the Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services Fire Prevention Division remained open, according to a review conducted by the auditor.

Reporter Melissa Hipolit asked the fire department a number of questions regarding the audit, to include:

  • Can you tell me how often you are inspecting schools?
  • Can you tell me if you re-inspect schools where NOV were issued to ensure they fixed the problem? If yes, how long after the notice was issued?
  • How do you notify the school system of a NOV? Who do you send the notice to?
  • Who inspects schools?
  • Why did the city auditor find that schools had not been inspected for several years?
  • Why did the city auditor find that many schools had not been re-inspected after NOV were issued?
  • Has anything been done to improve fire prevention efforts at school since the auditor's report came out? The auditor recommended creating an inspection plan, and implementation of a standard communication process with RPS. Have both of these things been done?

However, spokeswoman Chrys Slaughter wrote in an email, "After review, we are not able to comment on your inquiries at this moment."

She did provide one piece of information:

"In FY-20 (circa 2019) the City Council approved the creation of Civilian Fire Safety Inspectors (CFSI).The Department has interviewed for the position of CSFI and has 5 pending job offers in process."

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