Illinois high school violates fire codes - KMOV.com

Illinois high school violates fire codes

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This is a stairway at Hillsboro High School. They must be isolated with fire partitions, but are not. (Credit: KMOV) This is a stairway at Hillsboro High School. They must be isolated with fire partitions, but are not. (Credit: KMOV)

HILLSBORO, ILL. (KMOV.com) - Hundreds of students at Hillsboro High School in Illinois are at risk of being trapped if a fire ever breaks out in the school.

News 4 learned that the school building is breaking fire codes. Nearly 500 students attend the high school.

“Are students at risk? No,” Superintendent David Powell said. “I'm glad you asked that because there are no conditions that exist here that are noted by the fire marshal that in any way increases the likelihood of a fire.”

There are no increased chances, but there are issues dealing with students safely getting out of the 96-year-old building if there was a fire.

Powell says the Hillsboro School District has spent millions of dollars over the last eight years to repair and update the high school.

However the most expensive problems are still unsolved. Even though the school is fully compliant with upkeep and maintenance testing, Powell says there are three major fire safety issues.

“The fire escape has windows that are closer to the fire escape than what the code allows,” Powell said.

So if there is a fire, flames could shoot through the windows as students are using an exterior fire escape.

The second violation is the stairwells inside the school. Fire codes say they must be isolated with fire partitions. They're not.

The third and biggest issue, according to Powell, are the dozens of wooden oak doors in the school. He says these doors could burn quicker. All these issues are structural.

Powell said the building was built in the 1920s when the fire code was much different than today.

“It's not a matter of something we can put a maintenance crew in here to remedy, it's really a pretty significant construction project,” Powell said.

There is a proposal to go before voters in March on building a new high school. The estimated cost is around $34.5 million.

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