PA state senator proposing new child care center fire safety requirements following deadly fire

HARRISBURG, Pa -- A tragic fire at a daycare center in Erie, Pennsylvania  that left five children dead may change the way fire safety measures are handled in our state.

Though the daycare passed an inspection back in December, investigators found the center only had one working smoke detector.

Currently under Pennsylvania state law, smoke detectors are required throughout the building.

In hopes of preventing similar tragedies from happening again, state Sen. Dan Laughlin (R) says he is planning to introduce a bill that would require the Department of Human Services to include the inspection of all smoke detectors  — ensuring they are not only physically there — but also functioning properly.

“It would be better for the safety of the children," said Azerily Rodriguez, parent. “I would want to make sure they are following the law especially if my kids are going to that daycare, I want to make sure that they are safe."

Chief Chad Deardorff with the York City Fire Department believes the proposed bill can save lives.

“There’s a very good chance that could have been a very different outcome," said Deardorff.

He says sprinkler systems should also be required at every daycare center — including those at home.

“They’re highly recommended, but they are not required," Deardorff added. "It’s designed as a life safety system to give you the opportunity to get out of the property."

The proposed legislation would also require synced smoke detectors so that if one is triggered all of them go off.

Sen. Laughlin says he wants to see child care facilities face penalties for disabling or tampering with smoke detectors.

He plans to introduce the proposed bill to committee by the end of the year.

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