How do inspectors prepare to protect kids during a fire at school?

SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Fire inspectors play an important role in protecting your children’s life. Their goal is to help prevent fires before they begin.

Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to about 5,690 fires at education buildings. Of those, almost a quarter of them are started intentionally.

Fire inspector Elizabeth Bednarcik told News 2 that she is responsible for taking a close look at more than 15 schools in Sumner County.

She checks electrical cords, fire exits and makes sure any flammables are stored safely. She also helps each school develop a fire evacuation plan.

“What is the quickest way for a child to get out of the school when the alarm goes off and once they are outside the building, what is the safest place for them to stand at?” said Bednarcik.

Bednarcik then shares her suggestions with Director of Maintenance, Mikey Doss, and he makes any changes or improvements to the school and relays important information to the head of operations and teachers who enforce the recommendations.

“It’s taking care of the things up front so there is not a fire,” Doss said. “[It’s] taking care of the children, taking care of the potential things that might cause a fire.”

While inspecting a Gallatin school, Bednarcik told News 2 about the importance of doors that shut easily within a school.

According to Bednarcik, doors can act as a shield for someone trapped and unable to get out of a fire.

Inspectors told News 2 schools have come a long way when it comes to fire safety because there was a time when they were danger zones.

Bednarcik said schools across the United State made big changes after a devastating fire in Chicago in 1958 at Our Lady of the Angels Grade School on the West Side of Chicago. Three nuns and 92 children were killed.

“We had some really horrific fires with large loss of life and from those fires, like all big fires or all big incidences, we have learned from them and we have made our school much safer now,” said Bednarcik.

Bednarcik added the fire-safe behavior and habits Tennessee children learn in school sets the stage for a lifetime of fire safety awareness.

The State Fire Marshal’s office released a school fire safety video that gives parents and educators a behind-the-scenes look at an inspection.

It also offers insight into why inspections are a vital part of education.

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