Record album collection lands Madeira man in hot water

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Ralph Blackwelder owns a million record albums that he says has the potential to make him some money, but Cincinnati fire officials say all that vinyl is a potential safety hazard.

Blackwelder has been storing records from the 1970's in a Camp Washington warehouse.  An inspection by the fire department last summer revealed the warehouse has no sprinkler system and inadequate fire extinguishers.

"They came in and said 'hey you've got a potential fire hazard here are your sprinklers in operation here?' and I said 'no.' They said 'well we're going to have to cite you for not having sprinklers in operation, we want them fixed within 30 days,'" he said.

Blackwelder still had no sprinklers 30 days later, so Hamilton County Circuit Judge Russell Mock put him on probation and electronic monitoring until he either installed sprinklers or got rid of the records.

Blackwelder says his dreams of making a fortune on vinyl haven't worked out.

"We found out that this was a very specialized market. We found out that these things were too old to be current and not old enough to be collectable so we struggled with this project for a number of years," he said.

Judge Mock says all those records in the warehouse is a fire hazard.

"My largest concern about this case is there is a ton of flammable material in this warehouse. We have a 51-thousand square foot warehouse which wasn't designed to be a warehouse and it has no fire suppression system," said Mock.

"They've insisted that we fix the sprinklers which cost about $100,000 to do that and to organize the inventory or get the inventory out of there. They still want the sprinklers fixed in whatever case. Our main problem is we don't have the money to do the sprinklers," said Blackwelder.

Blackwelder says he's planning to launch a website to sell his records and he's looking for investors to help him out.

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