The Fire Experience in Home Day Care Occupancies

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By Kenneth E. Wood

The National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) is incapable of supplying information pertaining to home day care occupancies. Analysis of the fire experience in these occupancies has therefore suffered. This research examined the importance of home day care fire data and why such data are not provided by the NFIRS. Alternative means of quantifying this fire experience were examined. Model code requirements for day care homes were compared. Illinois' experience with home day care regulation was specifically examined. Historical and descriptive research methods were used. The fire and child care licensing agencies of each State were surveyed relative to regulation of day care homes and availability of incident data.

The research questions addressed were:

  1. What is the importance of quantifying the fire experience in home day care occupancies?
  2. Why does the NFIRS not provide data relative to home day care occupancies?
  3. What is the prescribed method to influence modification of the NFIRS?
  4. Are there alternative databases that quantity the fire experience in day care homes?
  5. How do home day care fire safety regulations compare State-by-State?
  6. How do model code criteria applicable to day care homes compare and how are they justified?

The results identified benefits of quantifying the fire experience in day care homes. NFIRS property classifications were found to be based upon an antiquated standard that will be updated in a new version of the NFIRS. No comprehensive alternative database to quantify the fire experience in day care homes was identified. State regulatory criteria for day care homes varied when compared. Model codes varied in their classification of and criteria for day care homes. A lack of adequate justification for code requirements was identified. When available, per capita data indicated infrequent fire incidents in day care homes compared to residential occupancies.

Resulting recommendations favored (a) early State adoption of the updated NFIRS, (b) improving communications between fire authorities and child care agencies, (c) developing performance-based home day care code criteria, (d) relating model code requirements to quantifiable data, (e) discontinuing the application of educational and institutional code requirements to day care homes, and (f) allowing child care agency representatives to conduct fire inspections in day care homes.