RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A fire alarm system at the now-scorched Fox Elementary School reportedly excluded a vital set of numbers needed to begin alerting authorities–the city’s 8-0-4 area code.
The timeline shared by Richmond Fire Department detailing the response Friday night said crews arrived to the school at 9:29 pm, after a passerby reported an alarm going off.
However, RFD said the city’s department of emergency communications had not received word from the Richmond Alarm Company about their system being triggered at the school.
At 9:39 p.m. RFD indicated the Richmond Alarm Company reportedly said there were no active alarms showing on their end.
In their own timeline of events, Richmond Public Schools said those vital alarm panels never called the Richmond Alarm Company because 8-0-4 was not recently added, after Verizon changed operations requiring local calls to include the area code.
8News called the alarm company, and showed up to their Midlothian office Tuesday, and received no response.
After no one answered the front, and a side door two employees outside indicated the alarm company was acquired by Johnson Controls, an international security equipment company.
Johnson Controls issued a short statement to 8News, saying they are “working with the school district and local authorities to support the investigation.”
Given the school is over 100 years old, RFD says Fox Elementary was not retrofitted with sprinklers, leaving open questions whether nine other Richmond schools over a century old have them.
Fox Elementary parents Becca and Daniel Duvall hope that financial assistance, including from the state, helps recover and prevent from future disaster.
“It was my kid’s school today it could be anybody’s in Richmond, and it it should really mobilize all of us. We should be angry and we should see change because these buildings are so old,” Becca Duvall said.
“It’s about competing priorities across Richmond Public Schools, and across all of our schools,” Daniel Duvall added.
8News did ask Johnson Controls, and RPS whose responsibility it was to add that 8-0-4 area code to the alarm system. Neither responded.