Nearly all Richmond schools now clear of fire safety violations

Richmond Schools fire code inspections
Posted at 3:53 PM, Oct 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-03 16:03:00-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Nearly all Richmond schools have been cleared of fire safety violations after a majority of facilities were cited with infractions during routine fire inspections. Fire inspection records obtained by CBS 6 showed that as of August 21, the first day of class for most schools, 190 violations were documented across dozens of schools.

A Richmond Schools spokesperson initially told CBS 6 that the plan was for all schools to be cleared of fire code violations by the beginning of the school year.

He said the two schools that had an early start in July as part of a 200-day calendar pilot program were prioritized and did achieve that goal.

Reinspections of the remaining schools, to ensure previously documented issues had been fixed, began in early September, some of which were behind schedule.

The Richmond Fire Department did not respond to CBS 6's initial inquiries or requests for an interview; however, Fire Chief Melvin Carter penned a letter to Superintendent Jason Kamras, dated September 18, which said 18 schools were cited with 190 violations "at the conclusion of the 2023 fire inspections period."

Carter said that none of the violations would have prevented schools from opening.

He added the most common infractions were obstructed exits, missing ceiling tiles, improper use of electrical cords, broken or missing electrical outlet coverings, improper exit lighting, and general housekeeping and storage.

During an October 2 Richmond School Board meeting, the RPS administration confirmed all schools but one had now been cleared of violations.

Board member Liz Doerr commended the facilities department for its timely response in bringing the schools up to code and referenced CBS 6's reporting as "fake news."

"There was an article about how we had 190 fire violations at the start of school. It seems like that was a little bit fake news given that the fire department said that none of the violations were enough to prevent opening schools," Doerr said. "It seems like all of the inspections happened well before the start of school, and it seems like we worked really quickly to fix them, so I just want the public to note don't believe everything that you read."

CBS 6 posted all fire inspection reports online which documented the schools that were in violation of fire codes as of August 21, the first day of school. Those reports can be accessed here and here.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

Richmond Schools fire code inspections

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