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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 9, 2022 01:06 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Requiring the Sharing of Child Care Locations and Emergency Plans
The devastating fire that claimed the lives of five young children in Erie in early August 2019 uncovered several serious gaps in existing law that ultimately proved deadly.

First and foremost, the tragedy soon prompted corrective action, requiring the inspection of smoke detectors as part of the state’s annual inspection of child care facilities.

It also revealed that local fire officials can be unaware of the existence of a child care facility within their own jurisdiction. By extension, they are unfamiliar with each facility’s exact address, hours of operation, floor plan, and emergency plan.

In talking with many county EMA directors and PEMA officials, it was often stated that counties only know about the existence and location of day cares if municipalities share that data. Conversely, municipalities said they usually know of day cares only if the county shares their location, or day care facilities themselves reach out to them.

This lack of knowledge and notification reveals a serious breakdown in the emergency communications chain, and a loophole in the law governing local emergency planning.

I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 593 of the 2021-2022 legislative session to require counties to share the location of their child care facilities and other dependent care facilities with the local municipality in which they are located, along with each facility’s emergency plans, and any subsequent updates.

Currently, according to PEMA officials, the emergency plan of each child care facility is kept on file at the county level, with the emergency management office/agency. The law does not require the plan to be tested, or shared with local fire departments and municipalities, often leading the plan to just gather dust in a binder on a shelf.

The onus is presently on the day care facility to inform the local fire department and municipality that they are operating, and to invite firefighters to become familiar with the building location, layout and evacuation plans. This communication does not always occur. In addition, the facility’s emergency management plan is only tested at the facility’s discretion.

With today’s modern technology, every county 911 center and municipality should have the ability to know and show where every child care center, nursing home and hospital is located.

Please join me in ensuring the consistent flow of information among counties, municipalities and dependent care facilities, for local firefighting and emergency planning purposes. Thank you.

Introduced as SB636