DODDS to fix Stuttgart school safety violations
October 18, 2006
STUTTGART, Germany — Safety violations at a Stuttgart school, including some reported nearly a year ago, will be fixed soon, according to a Department of Defense Dependents Schools spokesman.
The violations at Boeblingen Elementary-Middle School were cited at least twice by an Army Garrison Stuttgart fire inspector. Last week, a copy of the inspection report was given to Stars and Stripes, which wrote stories about the violations.
On Monday, a group of 15 officials from the garrison and Bavaria District toured the 70-year-old building, assessed the violations and decided they would be fixed.
Dennis Bohannon, the DODDS-Europe spokesman, said he did not know why the violations weren’t fixed in November when they were originally cited.
“We take all safety reports very seriously,” Bohannon said. “We, like many other people, are trying to determine how that happened and why they were not addressed earlier.
“Obviously it’s a problem we need to remedy.”
Nine violations were listed, including eight from a Nov. 8 inspection that hadn’t been fixed.
Violations included kindergartners, first- and second-graders taking classes on the fourth floor without having their own fire escape; inadequate fire suppression and alarms in the kitchen and bathrooms; and stairwell doors that were not known to be fire- and smoke-resistant.
This year the school was renovated to host both elementary- and middle-school pupils. Last year, the school had about 400 children, but this year it has about 525 pupils and 50 staff members. The building’s capacity is 615 people, Bohannon said.
Cheri Fields, the school’s PTA president, said last week that the unlikelihood of a fire and cost to fix the violations were not good reasons to ignore them.
“I realize we usually wait for a catastrophe to happen,” Fields said. “We would like to circumvent that.
“If something happened to those kids, and (the school and garrison) knew this and did nothing about it, what’s the cost of that?”
DODDS-Europe officials acknowledged that it was their responsibility to bring the building into compliance with safety regulations. Some steps have already been taken, Bohannon said.
Younger pupils will start taking their music and art classes on the first and second floors, and have library books and other resources brought down to their rooms so they do not have to go to the fourth floor. A part-time position will be added to facilitate this, Bohannon said.
The staff has been instructed on how to use emergency shut-down features in the new science labs. Changes to the basement as well as the fire-evacuation plan will be made as well to fix violations.
Any costs, such as for new fire doors, would be paid for by DODDS-Europe or some other source, Bohannon said.
He added that DODDS-Europe is asking for funds to build a new school in Boeblingen.