New questions about state inspections in the wake of deadly daycare fire in Erie

Local News

There are new questions about state inspections in the wake of the deadly daycare fire in Erie. this coming as the result of one inspection performed at the Harris Family Daycare in 2016 coming to light. It appears to contradict what officials with the Department of Human Services have said about smoke detectors.

The red flags came immediately following the fire that claimed the lives of five young children. Firefighters reported finding only one smoke detector in the attic.

“I would venture to guess that if there was a proper amount of smoke detectors in this home, we could have prevented if not all the fire deaths, most of them,” said Guy Santone, Chief of the Erie Fire Department.

In the days that followed, violations by the Department of Human Services were also revealed. Now, 16 DHS inspections have been obtained by State Senator Dan Laughlin using a right to know request. Since August 2013, those inspections have noted more than 100 violations at the Harris Family Daycare.

In one of those inspections dated January 2016, it notes that “Staff #1 could not locate the fire extinguisher or locate the smoke alarms” and the providers plan of correction stated that “all staff will be reminded and show where the fire extinguishers and smoke alarms are located.” The violations were listed as corrected. Last week, while announcing changes to the fire inspections of state certified daycare centers. The DHS secretary, Teresa Miller, reportedly said the current guidelines were outdated and did not check for smoke detectors.

“Unfortunately, it took a tragedy like this for us to see that,” Miller said. “That’s why we’re here and we looked at that and said more can be done. So, that’s why we are making these changes.”

As we have previously reported, there were numerous inspections that noted the lack of a posted emergency plan, uncovered outlets as well as cords within reach of children.

Here is a list of all of the inspection reports obtained by Senator Laughlin

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