Fire Department Finds Disabled Safety Systems at Utah High School

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Deputy State Fire Marshal Todd Hohbein arrived at Cedar High School to find doors chained shut, fire extinguishers missing and a smoke detector covered with plastic.

Continuing his inspection Tuesday, he set off the fire alarm. A staff member turned it off without checking and the alarm otherwise was ignored.

Hohbein said he had major concerns about what he found.

Principal Kevin Garrett "called me following the inspection and informed me of things that need immediate attention," said Paul Maggio, Iron County School District director of secondary education.

"We had already ordered smoke detectors, but any issue that needs to be taken care of, we'll comply completely. We don't want to put anyone in harm's way," Maggio said.

Hohbein will be back at the school Thursday to perform a complete inspection.

The two primary concerns Hohbein had with the school were the doors being locked shut and the lack of response to a fire alarm.

He said the doors were old, didn't shut well and need to be replaced. Some doors that were not chained shut also did not open because they had suffered from years of use and abuse.

Hohbein said the students and staff are conditioned to assume that all fire alarms are false and accidental because there is a faulty fire alarm system.

The smoke detector that had plastic on it was the one that kept going off and causing problems.

"That's not a way we fix that," Hohbein said.

Before Hohbein and Cedar City Fire Marshal Mike Phillips left the school Tuesday, they made sure the fire alarm was operating and chains were removed from the doors.

They also identified other exits that didn't work and must be repaired.

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