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Fire officials search Story Book Kids for violations

CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- The "Story Book Kids" shop in Evendale does everything from sell high end collectibles over the internet to holding book signings for authors of children's books.

But recently, fire inspectors found what they say are "dangerous conditions" inside the massive building on Reading Road.  Conditions that if not corrected, could definitely see the owners front and center in a Hamilton County courtroom.  This is exactly the kind of case that lands people in Hamilton County's housing court and could send people to jail.  Not only is that building full of fire cold violations, the fire chief says the problems have been going on for years.

Story Book Kids on Reading Road in Evendale is a huge place.  When fire inspectors looked at the facility the first week of March, they also found a huge problem. 

Evendale Fire Chief, Michael Hauck, said, "There's a large fire load within the building with an unprotected sprinkler system that is inoperable.  The fire load could easily out match us with an advancement before we're alerted. Without any alarm system the occupants of the building would not know there's an issue. Very dangerous situation."

The Evendale fire chief and his fire inspector found there was a sprinkler system here and an alarm system, but neither was working.  And then they noted a long list of additional problems.

Hauck continued, "Balconies that are filled with storage material, we  have electric chases that are unprotected, outlets covers off, junction boxes with covers off, electrical cords, extension cords running underneath, through, over under and unapproved wiring conditions."
The front part of the building is a show room and store.  There are party or meeting rooms off one side.  Part of the sprawling structure houses an internet business, part is a huge storage area.  Evendale officials say there's even a gym and illegal living quarters.
Story Book Kids is owned by Nancy Farrell.  We tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with her, leaving messages and talking with employees.

Additional violations here included vehicles being stored illegally as well as a room full of tires.  Fire officials gave Farrell 3 days to fix the most dangerous issues and 30 days to fix the rest.  But they say fire and building code violations here are nothing new.

"We have had lengthy fire inspection violations, notices for many years," Hauck said.

The good news is the fire alarms and sprinkler systems were fixed within the mandated 3 day period.  The real concern clearly is that the on-going and recurrent cold violations make that building a threat not just to the people inside, but also the firefighters and emergency personnel who would have to respond in the event of an emergency.

The next fire inspections for the building is scheduled for April 11th.  We will let you know how that goes.

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