Bill on Day-Care Homes Smoke Devices Advances

Times Staff Writer

A bill that would require smoke detectors in all day-care homes, regardless of size, was approved Monday by the Legislature--11 days after two babies died of smoke inhalation at a Huntington Beach baby-sitter's home equipped with only a fire extinguisher.

The new requirement was added to a bill by state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) last week after the Orange County fire underscored the confusing array of state and local day-care regulations, some of which contradict each other.

The Assembly passed the bill 69 to 3. It previously had cleared the Senate 37 to 0.

If Watson's bill is signed by the governor, as expected, both fire extinguishers and smoke detectors would be required for a facility to be licensed as a family day-care center in California.

Current licensing laws for day-care centers caring for fewer than seven children--such as the Huntington Beach fire site--allow a choice of either device.

In Huntington Beach, in an effort to reach even unlicensed day-care facilities, the City Council on Monday passed an emergency ordinance requiring smoke detectors in every dwelling.

The actions came in the wake of the June 8 blaze that left two infants dead and two other children and their baby-sitter injured. Fire investigators have said that a smoke detector probably would have saved the children's lives.

Already Required for Some

Day-care providers with more than seven children are already required by law to have both smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

The more stringent requirements are part of an amendment Watson added to a bill she authored that extends by five years the state government's power to license family day care--baby-sitting of between six and 12 children in the home.

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