State Sen. Laughlin Calls for Investigation into Daycare Facility's License
State Sen. Dan Laughlin is calling for an immediate investigation into the deaths of five children at Harris Family Daycare over the weekend.
Laughlin cited reports of missing smoke detectors after firefighters said only one was found in the daycare's attic. State law requires smoke detectors throughout the building.
Harris Family Daycare, located at 1248 W. 11th Street in Erie, was the subject of annual inspections, but none of the inspections indicated smoke detectors were missing. It was last inspected Dec. 28, 2018
Under state law, daycares must meet state building code regulations enforced by the Department of Labor and Industry.
“I am calling on the secretaries of Human Services and Labor and Industry to open an immediate and open inquiry into how a facility entrusted with the lives of small children failed to meet the most rudimentary standards of safety,” said Laughlin in a statement.
On December 28, 2018, inspectors noted five deficiencies, including the presence of cigarette butts and ash in part of the home and exposed electrical outlets. The deficiencies were reportedly remedied, and the facility’s license was renewed.
Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone said investigators suspect an electrical overload may have sparked the fire. He said there were many electrical cords under a living room couch with many things plugged into them. An electrical engineer is expected to assist investigators at the scene on Monday before they make a final determination on a fire cause.
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