Photo: Philadelphia City Council via Flickr (Public Domain Mark 1.0)
Photo: Philadelphia City Council via Flickr (Public Domain Mark 1.0)

Kenney promises school boiler inspections after union pressure


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Update (1/21): The Philadelphia City Council has passed a resolution calling for public hearings into the physical safety of schools in response to the incident at F.S. Edmonds Elementary School. 

“This is a step in the right direction to ensure safe facilities for our students, staff, and the men and women who maintain these buildings. For years, we have raised concerns over building safety, now Council can hear first-hand what we see and deal with every day,” said Ernie Bennett, 32BJ SEIU District 1201 Leader. “We are determined to make sure this tragedy never happens again.”


On Friday, Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the city would be begin a district-wide inspection of boilers in Philadelphia School District schools. The announcement comes after the Mayor met with representatives of the union representing district maintenance workers.

Last Tuesday, a boiler exploded at F.S. Edmonds Elementary School in Mt. Airy. The explosion injured an automatic plant mechanic giving him 3rd degree burns. The Philadelphia branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 32BJ, said they have raised concerns before to the school district about “inadequate staffing levels and unsafe equipment.”

Friday morning, members of the union went to the school district’s office and demanded action for about two hours, according to the union, before the situation caught the attention of the Mayor’s office. 

Kenney spoke to union representatives late Friday afternoon before declaring that the city will begin the inspections Tuesday. Also present was the president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO. SEIU representatives said they were grateful that the city was taking notice of the issue.

“We appreciate that Mayor Kenney stepped in to make our schools safer for students and workers,”  said Gabe Morgan, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU in a statement. “School District workers should not have to risk their lives to do their jobs. We will be working with the Mayor and the School District to implement the safety measures necessary to make sure a horrific accident like this never happens again.”

Along with inspections, the school district will implement new safety measures and training programs according to the union.

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