More than 40 of Horry County’s 54 schools aren’t totally equipped with fire sprinklers, according to documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request.
Twenty-one schools have no sprinklers, and 21 have sprinklers, according to school documents detailing fire systems.
“Statistically, if there’s ever been an incident, people don’t die with fire sprinklers short of an explosion,” said Gary Teachout, founder and former president of the Myrtle Beach Fire Safety Group.
In an email, district spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said that whether or not a fire sprinkler is in a school depends on the fire code the year the school was built, but there’s not retroactive requirement to fit older schools with new sprinklers.
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All new schools are required to have fire sprinklers.
She couldn’t give an estimate of how much it would cost to put sprinklers in old schools, but Teachout did.
“An average school, it’s going to be a minimum of $1 million, I would think,” he said. “You should definitely do fire sprinklers, but realistically, are they going to do it for an older building that they might rip down in a couple of years? A school is relatively non-combustible.”
The district is currently developing a 5-year facilities plan, and is deciding where to spend the money.
Without a referendum and depending on how the district uses it’s bond capacity, it could use $19.5 million this year and another $51.5 million over the next 7 years. Or, it could access $51 million this year with another $10 million over the next 7, said Bourcier.
What if a school catches fire?
Bourcier said the district has safety procedures in place for fires.
“We conduct ongoing training with both staff and students and provide routine inspections of various equipment in every school throughout the entire school year,” she said.
The last time a school burned down was Socastee High School in the 1970s, but it wasn’t a total loss, she said.
All district property is insured for at least 80 percent of the replacement value said Bourcier.
The last schools the district built cost between $37.9 million and $47.7 million per school.
Schools without fire sprinklers:
- Aynor Elementary School
- Aynor Middle School
- Carolina Forest Elementary School
- Conway Elementary School
- Forestbrook Middle School
- Homewood Elementary School
- Horry County Education Center
- Kingston Elementary School
- Loris Middle School
- Midland Elementary School
- Myrtle Beach High School
- Myrtle Beach Intermediate School
- Riverside Elementary School
- North Myrtle Beach Middle School
- Palmetto Bays Elementary School
- Pee Dee Elementary School
- Seaside Elementary School
- Socastee Middle School
- St. James Elementary School
- St. James High School
- St. James Middle School