When child care facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania open their doors on Monday, there will be a new addition to their next inspection.
Chelsey Withers spoke to fire inspectors about what exactly they’ll be looking for throughout the inspection.
In Pennsylvania, each daycare is required to be inspected by the Department of Human Services every year. With the recent deadly fire, they are now adding fire inspections to the required list.
“We’re looking for smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, exits that are not blocked,” said John Widomski, Chief Fire Inspector of the Erie Fire Department. “If something were to happen, people can get out in a timely fashion and misuse of storage where it shouldn’t be.”
If the Fire Inspector finds any violations, they tell the director or owner what to fix. Then, they will be re-inspected after changes are made. According to the inspector, businesses have about a week to make changes. If they don’t, they could be issued a citation.
“It’s always overwhelming because you always want to just make sure everything is perfect and ideally nothing is perfect in the world today and accidents happen all the time,” said Rebecca Kirsch, director of Handled with Care Daycare. “Whenever they tell us, we are like ‘it was not working’ yesterday, so you never know when something is not going to work.”
Handled with Care Daycare is one of at least six that Erie Fire Inspectors have already visited.
“You want to know how long it takes for your children to get out of your facility or your home center, so you want to do them at different times of the day,” Kirsch continued. “You don’t want to warn your staff, you want to train them.”