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Kamloops  

Report released on fire that gutted Kamloops school

School burned, alarm reset

Four months after a fire damaged a Kamloops elementary school beyond repair, the school district has released a report on the blaze.

On Monday evening, the school board received the report and discussed the findings with Kamloops Fire Rescue Chief Mike Adams.

"I am (satisfied)," said board chair Katleen Karpuk. "It reaffirms we've been maintaining our buildings, that shows we've been doing our jobs."

The report contains some newly public details on what happened on Sept. 5. At the time of the fire, three staff were on hand. They initially heard the alarm, it states, but thought it was a false alarm and two tried to reset it. As the alarm paused then continued, the third staff member spotted smoke and the three exited the school and called KFR. The resetting of the fire alarm delayed KFR's response time by three minutes and 46 seconds, according to the report.

"It's difficult to speculate (if that mattered)," Adams says. "The sooner we're informed, the better."

The report also notes that if sprinklers had been installed in the school, they might have been able to help save 20 per cent of the structure. Because the fire started above where the sprinklers are installed, they would have been less effective. When asked by the school board if 20 per cent would have been useable in the future, Adams was doubtful.

"With 80 per cent of the building damaged, it's more than likely you'd have knocked the building down and be in the same position," he said.

There had been three previous minor incidents involving smoke at the school in 2015, but the report says after investigation, KFR did not connect those incidents to the September fire.

It also restates what was released in December.

"The area of the fire origin was determined to be somewhere in the walls or concealed space between the drop ceiling and roof," it reads. "The most likely origin was the HVAC system in the concealer space above four classrooms on the west side of the building."

Recommendations from the report include annually reviewing with staff the use of fire panels and alarm systems, continued upgrading of sprinkler systems throughout the district and more meetings between the school district and KFR on fire prevention strategies. Sprinkler systems are currently in 40 of the district's 60 buildings. Plans are to install them in the rest of the buildings, but it's a costly process.



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