FCCERS-R and Fire Inspections

“How do I get a fire inspection?”  “Who can I talk to about getting a fire inspection for my home?”  These are common questions we hear from family child care home providers.  FCCERS-R item 12, Safety Practices, indicator 5.3 can raise anxiety with providers, and, unfortunately in Iowa there is no clear answer for them.

Licensed center-based programs in Iowa must receive annual inspections by a state fire marshal. Iowa Child Development Home Registration guidelines state the need for posting emergency plans, practicing fire and tornado drills, and providing a safety barrier around any heating stove or heating element to prevent burns. Official fire inspections in child development homes are not required and are rare, thus   indicator 5.3 in safety practices is often scored as a “no” on FCCERS-R score sheets.

fire extinguisher_bing imageEach town, county, rural district and fire department has their own policies regarding when and if fire inspections will be completed.  Barriers providers have come across when asking for a fire inspection include: inspections provided only within city limits, department is made up of volunteer fire fighters and lacks the resources, inspections are only completed in larger businesses or businesses open to the public, and cost ($150).

One provider was able to receive a fire inspection through her insurance company. This is great, but we want to ensure all child development home inspections across Iowa are similar. Since there isn’t an official form for child development home fire inspections in Iowa, see North Carolina’s Child Care Fire Inspection report form as a guide. We would want to see similar criteria met in a fire inspection for Iowa child development homes.

Because a fire inspection would be an easy “yes” on the score sheet, many providers tend to focus heavily on it.  However, it’s more important that they focus on the “big picture.”  Some thoughts to keep in mind:

  • Many providers who receive an overall score of 5.0 or higher do not have a fire inspection, and may have received a score of 4 or below in Safety practices.
  • If a provider meets all other 5 indicators but not 5.3, (fire inspection) they would still receive a 4 in Safety Practices.
  • In order to get through the Level 5 indicators, they would need a “yes” on 3.1 (No more than 3 safety hazards) and a “yes” on 5.1 (No safety hazards).   These indicators are commonly marked “no,” even in high-scoring programs due to safety hazards such as lack of playground surfacing, a changing table without the 6” barrier, no fence surrounding outdoor areas, and choking hazards accessible to children under the age of 3 years.

State Fire Marshal’s Office http://www.dps.state.ia.us/fm/

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Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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