'Minor' fire code violations found at middle school SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

April 23, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

A deputy state fire marshal identified several minor code violations during an inspection of Sykesville Middle School on April 5, according to a report released Wednesday.

"None [of the violations] are considered life threatening," said Bob Thomas, the state fire marshal, after he reviewed the inspector's report.

"Yes, there are violations, but, in almost every school in the state, some form of fire code violation occurs on a week-to-week basis."

The inspector, whom Mr. Thomas did not identify, found a sprinkler violation, an emergency light malfunction, a classroom door without fire-rated glass and a set of fire barrier doors that didn't close automatically during a fire drill.

Mr. Thomas has asked Vernon Smith, Carroll County's director of school support services, for a written plan describing how those problems will be corrected. Inspectors will return to the school within 60 days to review problem areas.

With 981 students, the building is more than 100 students over its rated capacity. Parents concerned with crowding in the school, which the county classifies "severely inadequate" for its enrollment, said the staff might have difficulty evacuating the building in an emergency.

"All means of egress were sufficient for the building's various areas," said Mr. Thomas. "We carefully examined the exit capacity and found enough exits to empty the building in a reasonable time."

"Reasonable" is from two to four minutes, he said.

The fire marshal's office conducted an "exit capacity examination," measuring various areas and the school's floor plan. The calculations are "in compliance with the Life Safety Code," Mr. Thomas said.

He said safe capacities include:

* 558 people for the second-floor education wing, based on stair widths of three stairwells.

* 840 for the first floor, based on door widths in exit corridors.

* 640 for the gym, based on the door width of the main entrance.

* 367 for the cafeteria, based on the room's square footage. Capacity based on door width exceeds this figure.

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