Parents Demand Fire Sprinklers, Alarms at Calif. School

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Still reeling over the damages caused by a destructive fire, concerned parents at Trace Elementary School have started a committee to promote the installation of better fire protection equipment when the San Jose Unified School District rebuilds the classrooms that burned down.

The July 5 fire destroyed as many as 16 classrooms, causing an estimated $8 million in damages. California law requires schools to install fully automated fire alarms when remodeling buildings and adding sprinklers for newly constructed campuses, according to Mercury News. However, since the law went into effect in 2002, the school district has filed exemptions for numerous school remodels, including the Trace building that was burned down.

Parents are seeking to amend the law and force districts to install fire sprinklers and automatic fire alarms. They have already spoken with district officials, who in turn have spoken with Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose).

Prior to the fire, the $10 million Trace building that burned down had manual pull alarms and smoke detectors in ceiling vents. However, the ventilation system was turned off for the summer, which resulted in smoke from the fire not immediately reaching the detectors.

If the law is amended, the district’s insurance will pay for the upgraded fire protection system.

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