There are upward of 40 daycares in private homes in the City of Erie. Now, the city is working to make sure they are in compliance and new guidelines are established when it comes to inspections. Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone addressing City Council tonight during a study session focusing on how to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Just two months ago, the deaths of five children in a day care on West 11th Street brought national attention to Erie and even more attention to the way these centers are inspected by the Commonwealth and the City.
“I mean with everything that happened, something had to change and this is a good step forward tonight,” Santone said.
City Council getting a first hand look at this preliminary proposal, a proposal city leaders say will close some of the loop holes left by the state plan.
“We really need to take a look at what we have on the books, what the state has on the books and come up with a game plan,” said Andy Zimmerman, City Manager of Code Enforcement. “It’s really going to make a difference and protect these innocent lives.”
Councilwoman Liz Allen joining the meeting via phone, her voice the only one at the meeting concerned about the cost to the day care operators and worried some could go out of business. Other council members saying you can’t put a price on a life, especially that of a child.
“We can’t have a repeat of this,” said Casimir Kwitowski, Erie City Councilman. “I think as a parent, I would want to know if when I put my kind into a preschool or daycare or anything, I want to make sure they’re safe. That would be primary with me.”
To be in compliance with the new requirements, a day care facility would have inter-connected smoke detectors and one in each bedroom. This, along with mandatory fire drills and an exit plan. Santone hoping this won’t take long to put in place.
“Oh yeah, I mean with every tragedy hopefully something good comes of it and hopefully will be something good coming from this so that this doesn’t happen again.” Santone said.