STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – In light of the Erie daycare fire that left five children dead, we wanted to find out what the requirements are for centers like this so parents can know if their child’s daycare is safe.
Once a year, every licensed daycare in Ohio gets two inspections — one from the local fire department and another from the Department of Jobs and Family Services.
Jared Kitt is a fire inspector for Struthers. Some of the things he looks for include at least one smoke detector and two exits on each floor of a daycare. He also checks to make sure extension cords aren’t permanent wiring.
Kitt said parents should always make sure their daycare can handle a crisis.
“Some of the biggest things you want to look for is, obviously, how many staff members are there, if their fire safety plans are posted, if they have fire safety plans and what they look like. Make sure the kids go through regular fire drills.”
Kitt called the Erie fire at the home daycare a tragedy, saying it shows why following the law is important.
“I think a working smoke detector is the number one thing that could have alerted the occupants earlier to the fire and, hopefully, change that outcome,” he said.
“I couldn’t imagine being those parents or having to call those parents,” said Kim Frisbie, owner of Kiddin’ Around Daycare in Boardman.
Frisbie said her center follows strict fire safety precautions. In addition to their yearly inspections, they have a fire alarm system that includes sprinklers and calls 911 automatically. They also have fire drills every month.
“Even the infants,” Frisbie said. “We take the infants out in cribs that have wheels on them, and we also have the fire department come here and speak to the children about fire safety.”
Several fire departments told us the existing rules for daycares are very effective in preventing fires and death.
Fire inspection requirements for daycare centers:
– Two remote means of escape from each level where childcare is provided
– Means of escape free from clutter and other obstructions
– Stairs, hallways and passages to exit are adequately lighted
– No room used for children is reached only by ladder or trapdoor
– Child-proof covers are used on electrical receptacles (if required by fire inspector)
– Extension cords are used only as temporary wiring
– Flammable and combustible materials are properly stored
– Floorplan is posted, showing fire and emergency evacuation route from facility (residential facilities only)
– Record is kept of practice fire drills (residential facilities only)
Additional requirements for foster and adoptive homes (5 or fewer children) and overnight facilities:
– A working U.L. approved smoke alarm on each level of occupancy of the home
– A U.L. approved portable fire extinguisher in working order in or near cooking area
– Unvented kerosene or oil heaters shall not be used
Additional requirements for residential and overnight facilities, such as a group home (up to 10 children), Children’s Residential Center (11 or more children) or Crisis Care Facility:
– Smoke detectors should be located according to instructions of the local fire inspector or state fire marshal
– Free-standing wood-burning stoves and unvented kerosene gas or oil heaters shall not be used
– Written calendar of periodic fire drills (developed by the agency) approved by fire inspector
– Evacuation plan approved by fire inspector