Idaho schools less compliant with safety codes

Credit: Adam Worthington / KTVB

Idaho schools less compliant with safety codes

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by Jamie Grey

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

KTVB.COM

Posted on February 16, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 10:14 AM

BOISE -- KTVB requested and analyzed a sampling of yearly school inspection reports to see what types of issues are in local schools and if they're being fixed like they're supposed to.

KTVB requested and received dozens of school records from the state's Division of Building Safety to see if Idaho's administrators are taking care of buildings and evacuation plans.

Once a year, schools and playgrounds are supposed to be inspected, and in the sample KTVB looked at, found the yearly inspections are happening. Those inspectors are also finding violations, but those aren't always being corrected, and the state says compliance has gotten worse.

"We're charged statutorily with assuring that the schools are safe," Steve Keys, Deputy Administrator of the Division of Building Safety, said.

Inspectors from the Division of Building Safety check Idaho schools to make sure they're structurally sound, have proper safety equipment like fire extinguishers and that they do fire drills every month.

Districts have 20 days to fix any issues and report back. KTVB looked at records to see if schools correct issues. For a local sample, we randomly requested all reports for the Caldwell and Boise school districts.

Most commonly, KTVB found missed fire drills, teachers using extension cords improperly and exit signs not lit. KTVB found schools filed reports that they'd made fixes but we found violations repeated in some schools year after year.

"Basically our authority, or the authority of the administrator of this division, is limited. His authority is limited to those situations that are deemed to either be an imminent hazard or a serious hazard. Other than that, as I'm sure you've seen on the reports, we make recommendations," Keys said.

To help schools get up to code, some local authorities, like Caldwell Fire Marshal Andy Cater come in and help state inspectors who don't have enforcement authority.

"They may not, but they'll pass that information on to us," Cater said.

Cater will look around himself at some of those same issues, like extinguishers, and exit signs, which he says may seem like minor things, but are critical.

"We want the students and staff to actually leave the building, and you can get lost in a building this size. You can get lost in your own home if it's full of smoke," Cater said.

Cater also works with schools to help them figure out ways to make the changes they need to be up to fire code.

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