I-Team: Plan to upgrade Providence schools to cost millions - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

I-Team: Plan to upgrade Providence schools to cost millions

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PROVIDENCE -

It's almost been a year since the NBC 10 I-Team revealed the problem of how dozens of Providence public schools went years without any record of formal fire inspections.

So what's changed since then?

"We're confident that we have a plan in place that we can sustain," said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare.

Pare said all schools have full, current inspections on file, and that the city plans to fix code violations found at all 37 schools.

Pare said smaller problems, like broken fire extinguishers or doors that don't close properly, have already been repaired.

However, older schools still don't have any fire sprinklers.

"We need to sprinkler and we know that's going to cost several hundred thousand dollars in some of the buildings," Pare said.

Pare said the city hired a fire engineering consulting company to figure out how to bring the schools up to code. The experts will go through each school over the next several months and come up with an action plan.

"Look, it's going to be a multimillion-dollar investment into our schools. Likely we'll have to find a funding source," he said.

In the meantime, fire inspectors are now visiting all schools every year, as required by law.

Providence principals went through fire safety training in August, so they'll know what to look out for inside their schools.

Pare said local firefighters are stopping by schools in their districts as much as possible so they can get to know the buildings, students and staff.

"Not only did we go in and inspect, but we're going to routinely and systematically go in," he said.

Pare said the plan to add sprinklers and other large-scale improvements to schools is due back in about three months.

The plan, he said, should give a better idea of the total cost of the upgrades each school needs.

Then the city will have to find a way to cover the cost, possibly through a bond measure.

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