School damaged by arson fire has no smoke or fire detectors - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

School damaged by arson fire has no smoke or fire detectors

Posted: Updated:

YAKIMA, Wash.-- The arson fire at Robertson Elementary School in Yakima is still being investigated Monday, but we've learned that the school has no smoke or fire detectors.

The fire caused about $100,000 in damages, destroying 2 bookshelves filled with books and some smoke damage in the building.

Firefighters spent hours on Sunday cleaning out the library at Robertson Elementary.
Tons of burnt books, destroyed lights, and broken glass show just how bad this arson fire was.
But what about smoke detectors? Or sprinkler systems? Well the school doesn't have them.

"Depending on the year a school is built it would be required or not required by code and so the year that this school was built which was 1958, that's not a requirement," Mary Beth Wright, with the Yakima School District.

According to Yakima City's Code Administration office, unless the school was renovated, they're not required to get up to current codes.

"The school is safe. That's the minimum requirements that were required at the time. That's how the code works, the minimum requirements in 1958 were pull stations," said Joe Caruso, code administration manager and fire marshal.

The Yakima Fire Department says it's not uncommon to see this in older buildings, but detectors would definitely make it safer.    

"Have additional safeguards inside those buildings absolutely would help suppress the fire and actually detect it a little bit earlier than when it did," said Capt. Brandon Dorenbush, deputy fire marshal with the Yakima Fire Department.

The school district says they were just following code and say they know the school is safe when children are there.

"When it comes to where you ask whether that's right or wrong on smoke detectors, we have to respect the recommendations and expertise of our insurance carriers and also the fire code people," said Wright.

Caruso says schools in Yakima are inspected every August, and Robertson passed their inspection just a couple of months ago.

As far as the investigation both Yakima Fire and Police say they still have a lot of evidence to sort through.