Inspection Changes Sought Following Fatal Daycare Fire
Three days after a massive fire claimed the lives of five young children at an overnight daycare, it appears changes are going to be made to the way child care centers are inspected.
The investigation into the fatal Harris Family Daycare fire revealed that the building only had one smoke detector in the attic.
According to the Department of Human Services---which is responsible for inspecting child care centers---under law, they can’t cite a facility for a lack of smoke detectors.
In response to the fatal fire, Senator Dan Laughlin has presented a statewide ordinance that would require DHS to check for smoke detectors at each child care center, every year
"Somebody needs to make sure there are working smoke detectors in all of these daycare centers,” said Sen. Laughlin. “I don't think anybody wants to see anything like this happen ever again."
According to the DHS, they are willing to work with other state agencies to ensure safety at child care facilities.
The DHS provided Erie News Now with the following statement:
“The Department of Human Services inspects child care facilities annually to ensure compliance with health and safety standards. In place since 1992, the department’s current regulations for child care facilities relating to fire safety address exits, space heaters, fire places, wood burning/coal burning stoves, and fire drills. See 55 Pa. Code §§ 3290.91 -3290.94. The current regulations do not allow for citing a child care facility for compliance with fire safety codes including the presence and functionality of smoke detectors. If the Department of Human Services observes a possible fire safety violation, it will request additional fire safety inspections by the appropriate agency pursuant to 55 Pa. Code § 20.35(c). This is an unthinkable tragedy, and we are committed to working with other state agencies and local partners to ensure that child care facilities are properly monitored for smoke detectors in the future. We are committed to closing this gap and all options, including amending DHS’ existing regulations, will be considered in the immediate future.”
Meanwhile, the City of Erie is creating its own ordinance that would allow the Erie Fire Department to conduct the inspections, locally.
"We're going to close that gap,” said Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone. “This is unacceptable. This just can't go on anymore."