TULSA, Okla. - The Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, formerly Barnard Elementary School, had no sprinkler system installed when a massive fire and at least two explosions gutted the building last week.
As the Tulsa Fire Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms continue to probe 40,000 square feet of debris in hopes of pinning down the cause of the fire, KRMG investigated whether the building had a sprinkler system, and whether other TPS buildings have them.
Chris Payne, a spokesman for the district, could not tell us which schools do or don't have the safety systems installed.
"Don't really have a percentage available on how many do have it (a sprinkler system) and how many don't, but the big thing is we just make sure and comply with all the local codes, and we do work really closely with the city and the fire department on what we need to do."
He confirmed "there is not a sprinkler system at Barnard, primarily due to the age of the building."
"We are doing sprinkler systems in all of our new building construction, and in the older ones where we've done major renovations we're doing that," he added.
As for Barnard, "the last major construction there was in 1996 when the library was added," Payne said.
He could not tell KRMG when the policy to install sprinklers during any major construction was instituted.
Fire codes in Tulsa require all buildings over 3 stories tall to have sprinkler systems, or "safe egress," in other words a safe, clearly defined way to exit the building in an emergency.
"We want to make sure kids are in safe schools, so it's a concern, but we do make sure that we have good egress. If something was to happen, we'd want to make sure that we have plenty of safe ways out of the buildings, and that is the case," Payne told KRMG.
And, he added, all Tulsa schools comply with the law.