Union, Staff Upset After Explosion in Philly Elementary School

Protesters said a lack of attention toward school safety made for a dangerous situation in the school district.

Union leaders and members of a Philadelphia school district’s staff demanded changes to school safety processes after a fire at an elementary school injured one.

Members of the Philadelphia School District and local unions marched to district headquarters Jan. 15 demanding changes following the incident at F.S. Edmonds Elementary School, according to philly.com.

The marchers said years of neglecting school safety and cutting corners led to a boiler room explosion at the school that left a mechanic in flames Jan. 13. The mechanic, Christopher Trakimas, remains in a medically-induced coma at Temple University Hospital’s burn unit.

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The marchers held meetings with a district executive, Mayor Jim Kenney and a representative of Governor Tom Wolfe’s office to discuss possible solutions to safety concerns.

As a result of the meetings, more than 600 boilers in the district will be re-inspected and union leaders will help district officials prioritize future safety projects. Renovation proposals for the district’s buildings are expected as soon as a district-wide safety inspection is completed.

The explosion forced the elementary school to evacuate as a booming sound came from the boiler room and smoke filled the building. The school remains closed until Jan. 19.

A district spokesman noted the district has spent $83 million over the last decade to replace boilers. The specific boiler that exploded had passed inspection in 2015.

The Philadelphia Fire Department and an independent engineer are investigating the explosion.

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