RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Public Schools mechanic A.J. Morgan is outraged after his tools burned in a fire at the bus depot last summer. Morgan said the district has not fully reimbursed his loss. Authorities deemed the fire at a garage off Chamberlayne Avenue accidental.
Morgan and several other mechanics claim they lost tens of thousands of dollars in tools in the fire but were told by district leaders they would be made whole, even if insurance payouts fell short.
“It was pretty much a slap in the face,” he said.
According to Morgan, insurance wrote a check for roughly $6,000 and RPS offered an additional $4,000 for his lost equipment.
He estimates their value at close to $43,000 but said his full claim was not paid because he did not have receipts for every single tool.
Each mechanic also received $1,000 shortly after the June fire while they awaited insurance settlements.
Morgan and his colleagues said they purchased many of their tools decades ago and some of the receipts they did hold onto were lost in the fire, making it difficult to meet the insurance company’s documentation requirements.
“How do you get that when it’s burnt to a crisp?” Morgan asked
The loss has limited their ability to do freelance mechanic work or obtain a job at another shop. According to Morgan, other employers expect mechanics to own the tools of the trade commiserate with their levels of experience.
A spokesperson for Richmond Public Schools verified that the insurance company did require receipts to reimburse lost tools. In a statement to CBS 6 News, RPS said the company followed the standard practice of calculating payouts for the mechanics based on their receipts and depreciation.
“RPS understands the value of a mechanic’s tools and the length of time they own them. If Vacorp determined a mechanic’s payout to be over $10,000, then the higher amount is what the mechanic will receive. RPS wanted to ensure that every mechanic, at a minimum, receives $10,000,” said the spokesperson.
RPS is currently leasing a building and using it as a temporary garage space with equipment and tools for the team to use.
They have not released details on when the original garage might be rebuilt.
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