'Everything is fine': Lamar HS overcrowding not an issue, fire inspectors say

HOUSTON – The Houston Fire Department hasn't completed its inspection of Lamar High School, where photos showed overcrowded stairways on the first day of school.

The Houston Building Department approved design plans for the new campus in 2014 and recently gave temporary approval for the school to open.

But a final approval, the fire marshal inspection, has not taken place.

In the meantime, fire inspectors are required to remain at the school while class is in session. It's a practice Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said was not that uncommon.

Houston building inspection reports show that the city approved designs for the new east, south and west wings of Lamar High School. Records indicate the occupancy maximum at those campuses totaled 2,200.

KPRC 2 requested the occupancy maximum for the older, north section of campus but have not yet received it.

Around 3,000 students are currently attending Lamar High, according to the HISD website.

The principal at Lamar, Rita Graves, told KPRC on Wednesday that the foot traffic at the school is now "perfectly fine."

A dozen or so students said the stairways and hallways are still packed at the beginning and end of the school day, but traffic has improved.

The final fire inspection report on the school should be completed soon, an inspector at the school told KPRC 2.

"Everything is fine," he added. "There are plenty of exits, and plenty of staircases."

Here is a statement from HISD:

"Most fire alarm tests have been completed at Lamar High School. A few remaining tests are being conducted by fire marshals under the supervision of the general contractor, which is standard operating procedure for a project of this size and scope. The safety of our students is always our top priority. Additionally, campus evacuation plans may contain sensitive information and are not generally released to the public due to potential security concerns."

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