Fire chief: Livingstone College has more than 1K fire code violations

by: Paige Hansen Updated:


SALISBURY, N.C. - More than 1,000 fire code violations in four years have left Livingstone College with a hefty fine, Salisbury City officials said. Salisbury City Fire Chief Bob Parnell says the school is aware of the violations and has not fixed them.

Eyewitness News reached out to Livingstone College multiple times Wednesday, but the school never made the president available to comment on the report from the city's fire department. The city says the violations are a safety issue for students and everyone living in Salisbury.

Every time the Salisbury Fire Department is called out, it costs $1,494, according to city spokeswoman Elaney Hasselmann. In an email to Channel 9 Wednesday, Hasselmann said that number is an average, "reported by the North Carolina Benchmarking Project. This number is figured by taking the total department budget, divided by the total number of calls per year."

The city says most calls to Livingstone College are false alarms.

"It ties up our units on a non-legitimate call when there could be a legitimate call across town they really need to be at," Doug Paris, the Salisbury city manager said.

The fire department says Livingstone College owes the city $63,152.66 in fines because of violations which range from unsafe locked or blocked fire exits, failed fire alarms and students who don't leave the building when an alarm is sounding.

"Students not evacuating because of the cry wolf syndrome and if there is a real fire somewhere in that dorm, those students are in danger, in harms way," Fire Chief Parnell said.

Students say alarms go off often, and easily from steam from hot showers and smoky curling irons.

We tried to talk to students off campus today. In the middle of my first question, a student was called over by a school official who was on campus.  Channel 9 couldn't hear the conversation but several students told us, the school told them not to say anything bad about Livingstone to the media.

When we asked the student what the school official said to him, the student said, "He was just telling me how wonderful Livingstone is and I agree with him."

The fire department will inspect the school again on April 24, 2014.  If violations have not been corrected, the city manager says it is possible some dorms could be shut down.  The city hopes the college board will make sure that doesn't have to happen.