ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools face some big hurdles as they scramble to reopen. One of them is getting more than 140 schools inspected by the fire marshal’s office. Getting the district’s 143 schools cleared for reopening may be a tall order. However, Albuquerque Fire Rescue‘s fire marshal says their checklist is not all that different from what they look for every day in restaurants and businesses.
“We’re going over there as working hand in hand and to answer any questions,” said Deputy Chief Gene Gallegos, AFR’s fire marshal. “On the list is: do you have masks, do you have hand sanitizer, did you put the chairs six feet apart, marked A or B.”
APS says it won’t be done with these inspections by Feb. 8, the date the governor says kids can go back to class for hybrid learning. AFR — which does the inspections — couldn’t give us a timeline on how long it could take to get all the schools. The fire marshal did say his office is working with APS on which schools to inspect first.
“We have been in communication with Superintendent Elder,” said Gallegos. “We’re both on the same page, getting the priority schools, which ones are ready to open first, and he’s going to give us that list of schools and we will work with him on whatever plan he thinks is the best.”
Gallegos says they’re preparing to begin the inspections soon. As far as how long each inspection takes, Wednesday, APS Interim Superintendent Scott Elder said the Public Education Department believes inspectors can knock out 10 schools in three hours.
“Those were elementary schools,” said Elder. “If you project that out over the APS schools, it would take us about 4 1/2 days to complete.”
AFR has 14 inspectors. They’ll dedicate as many as they can to getting the school checks done quickly, but some of them will still have to perform their regular duties inspecting businesses. APS says its schools are equipped with the proper PPE and distancing measures, so they believe the inspections will just be a formality.