115C-525. Fire prevention.

(a) Duty of Principal Regarding Fire Hazards. - The principal of every public school in the State shall have the following duties regarding fire hazards during periods when he is in control of a school:

(1) Every principal shall make certain that all corridors, halls, and tower stairways which are used for exits shall always be kept clear and that nothing shall be permitted to be stored or kept in corridors or halls, or in, on or under stairways that could in any way interfere with the orderly exodus of occupants. The principal shall make certain that all doors used for exits shall be kept in good working condition. During the occupancy of the building or any portion thereof by the public or for school purposes, the principal shall make certain that all doors necessary for prompt and orderly exodus of the occupants are kept unlocked.

(2) Every principal shall make certain that no electrical wiring shall be installed within any school building or structure or upon the premises and that no alteration or addition shall be made in any existing wiring, except with the authorization of the superintendent. Any such work shall be performed by a licensed electrical contractor, or by a maintenance electrician regularly employed by the board of education and approved by the Commissioner of Insurance.

(3) Every principal shall make certain that combustible materials necessary to the curriculum and for the operation of the school shall be stored in a safe and orderly manner.

(4) Every principal shall make certain that all supplies, such as oily rags, mops, etc., which may cause spontaneous combustion, shall be stored in an orderly manner in a well-ventilated place.

(5) Every principal shall make certain that all trash and rubbish shall be removed from the school building daily. No trash or rubbish shall be permitted to accumulate in a school attic, basement or other place on the premises.

(6) Every principal shall cooperate in every way with the authorized building inspector, electrical inspector, county fire marshal or other designated person making the inspections required by G.S. 115C-525(b).

It shall further be the duty of the principal to bring to the attention of the local superintendent of schools the failure of the building inspector, electrical inspector, county fire marshal, or other person to make the inspections required by G.S. 115C-525(b). It shall further be the duty of the principal to call to the attention of the superintendent of schools all recommendations growing out of the inspections, in order that the proper authorities can take steps to bring about the necessary corrections.

(b) Inspection of Schools for Fire Hazards; Removal of Hazards. - Every public school building in the State shall be inspected a minimum of two times during the year in accordance with the following plan: Provided, that the periodic inspections herein required shall be at least 120 days apart:

(1) Each school building shall be inspected to make certain that none of the fire hazards enumerated in G.S. 115C-525(a)(1) through (5) exist, and to ensure that the building and all heating, mechanical, electrical, gas, and other equipment and appliances are properly installed and maintained in a safe and serviceable manner as prescribed by the North Carolina Building Code. Following each inspection, the persons making the inspection shall furnish to the principal of the school a written report of conditions found during inspection, upon forms furnished by the Commissioner of Insurance, and the persons making the inspection shall also furnish a copy of the report to the superintendent of schools; the superintendent shall keep such copy on file for a period of three years. In addition to the periodic inspections herein required, any alterations or additions to existing school buildings or to school building utilities or appliances shall be inspected immediately following completion.

(2) The board of county commissioners of each county shall designate the persons to make the inspections and reports required by subdivision (1) of this subsection. The board may designate any city or county building inspector, any city or county fire prevention bureau, any city or county electrical inspector, the county fire marshal, or any other qualified persons, but no person shall make any inspection unless he shall be qualified as required by G.S. 153A-351.1 and Section 7 of Chapter 531 of the 1977 Session Laws. Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting two or more counties from designating the same persons to make the inspections and reports required by subdivision (1) of this subsection. The board of county commissioners shall compensate or provide for the compensation of the persons designated to make all such inspections and reports. The board of county commissioners may make appropriations in the general fund of the county to meet the costs of such inspections, or in the alternative the board may add appropriations to the school current expense fund to meet the costs thereof: Provided, that if appropriations are added to the school current expense fund, such appropriations shall be in addition to and not in substitution of existing school current expense appropriations.

(3) It shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Insurance, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education to prescribe any additional rules and regulations which they may deem necessary in connection with such inspections and reports for the reduction of fire hazards and protection of life and property in public schools.

(4) It shall be the duty of each principal to make certain that all fire hazards called to his attention in the course of the inspections and reports required by subdivision (1) of this subsection are immediately removed or corrected, if such removal or correction can be accomplished by the principal. If such removal or correction cannot be accomplished by the principal, it shall be the duty of the principal to bring the matter to the attention of the superintendent.

(5) It shall be the duty of each superintendent of schools to make certain that all fire hazards called to his attention in the course of the inspections and reports required by subdivision (1) of this subsection and not removed or corrected by the principals as required by subdivision (4) of this subsection are removed or corrected, if such removal or correction can be brought about within the current appropriations available to the superintendent. Where any removal or correction of a hazard will require the expenditure of funds in excess of current appropriations, it shall be the duty of the superintendent to bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate board of education, and the board of education in turn shall bring the same to the attention of the board of county commissioners, in order that immediate steps be taken, within the framework of existing law, to remove or correct the hazard.

(c) Liability for Failure to Perform Duties Imposed by G.S. 115C-288(d) and 115C-525(a) or 115C-525(b). - Any person willfully failing to perform any of the duties imposed by G.S. 115C-288(d), 115C-525(a) or 115C-525(b) shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and shall only be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) in the discretion of the court. (1957, c. 844; 1959, c. 573, s. 14; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1989, c. 681, s. 12; 1993, c. 539, s. 892; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2009-570, s. 40.)