Erie officials support state Representatives Merski and Harkins fire safety bills

Local News

There is more support tonight for a plan from two area lawmakers to toughen fire safety inspections at child care facilities. This comes in the wake of the daycare fire that claimed five young lives.

Samiar Nefzi reports from the control room after speaking with city officials.

Following the deadly August fire that claimed the lives of five young Erie children, Representatives Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are coming together to reduce the chances that a tragedy like that would ever happen again.

City of Erie Fire Chief Guy Santone and Code Enforcement Manager Andy Zimmerman both approve State Representatives Bob Merski and Pat Harkins co-sponsored bills.

“Unfortunately, five children had to die, but sometimes when something bad happens, something good comes from it. This is something good from this point forward,” said Fire Chief Guy Santone, Erie Fire Department.

Zimmerman saying the more people looped in will help to decrease overlooked areas, saying his office is very pleased with the idea.

“No one ever wants to see anything like this happen again. To have all parties on board, cooperating and working together to make sure this does not happen again,” said Andy Zimmerman, Code Enforcement Manager.

The first bill requires the state Department of Human Services to check all smoke detectors during annual inspections of child care facilities, as well as checking emergency plans and logs of planned drills.

The second bill calls for interconnected smoke detectors. Zimmerman, as well as Santone, saying they highly recommend the interconnected alarm system.

“With all of them going off, even neighbors in close proximity to other buildings would hear them going off. The more people that are alerted, the better off we are,” said Zimmerman.

“It’s just that much safer, because if there is a fire downstairs and that alarm goes off, the alarm upstairs also goes off. It gives you just that much earlier warning that there is an issue,” said Chief Santone.

Santone added the city is also working on their ordinance requiring home-based child care facilities to notify the city that they are in operation.

“Just in case there is a small loop hole somewhere, we’re covering all of our bases so this kind of tragedy never happens again,” said Chief Santone.

Santone saying the ordinance has been presented to the Erie City Council. The council still needs to hold an official reading of the ordinance, however, Santone says he feels there is strong support behind it.

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