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Inspection Checklist for Day Care Centers

This information is vaild only as a guideline for enforcement by the State Fire Marshal of Louisiana for new day care centers.


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FILES

Interpretation for Corridor Rating Requirements in Day Care Occupancies

Department of Social Services: Class A Day Care Rules & Regulations

Department of Social Services: Class B Day Care Rules & Regulations

 

BASIC REQUIREMENTS

Number of Children

Day care centers must meet the requirements of the NFPA Life Safety Code when more than twelve (12) children receive care, maintenance and supervision by people other than relatives or legal guardians for less than twenty-four (24) hours a day.

NFPA 101:16.1.3

Staffing Requirements

The staff to children ratio for a center is set by and enforced by the Department of Social Services which differ from the staffing requirements in the Life Safety Code.

Staff to Child Ratio Age
1:5 Under 1 yr
1:7 Over 1 yr
1:11 2-3
1:13 3-4
1:15 4-5
1:19 5-6
1:23 School Age

Mixed Occupancies

Buildings that have mixed occupancies shall have a minimum one hour fire barrier separating the center from the rest of the buildings.

NFPA 101:16.1.2

Handicap Accessibility

Day care centers are to be accessible with sloped 1:12 ramps with signage for on site parking, curb ramps, and toliet rooms in accordance with ADAAG.

Minimum Construction Requirements

The minimum types of construction allowed for day care centers are listed in the following table:

Table 16.1.6.1 Location/Construction Type Limitations
Location of Day Center Sprinklered Building? Construction Type Permitted
1 story below LED Yes Any type other than III(200) & V(000)
Level of exit discharge LED No Any type
1 story above LED Yes Any type
No I(433), I(332), II(222)
2 or 3 stories above LED Yes Any type other than III(200), IV(2HH) & V(000)
3 stories above LED but not high rise Yes I(433), I(332), II(222) or II(111)
High Rise yes I(443), I(332) or II(222)

For Example: Type V(111) Wood Protected Frame

  • Floor Construction (1 hour)
  • Structural Frame: Columns supporting more than one floor (1 hour)
  • Exterior bearing walls (1 hour)

 

SFM DEPARTMENT INFORMATION

Plan Review

Anyone interested in going into the business of child care obviously must first consider the building which will house the day care facility. Just like with any new business, one must decide on what is needed in the building to provide a functional, efficient and safe atmosphere for the workers and prospective clients. The decision process may involve choosing to renovate an existing building or building a new one. But one issue that must not be overlooked is compliance with the minimum fire and life safety laws, rules and regulations.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 40:1574 requires plans and specifications to be submitted to and reviewed by the Office of State Fire Marshal prior to building, remodeling, renovating or adding on to any building larger than a two family dwelling. Therefore, before changing an existing structure to a day care or building a new day care facility, plans and specifications must be sent to the Fire Marshal. Depending on the size of the facility, the plans may be drawn by anyone skilled in drafting building plans, however, sufficient detail will be necessary. It is highly recommended that a professional, such as an architect or civil engineer be hired or consulted for code requirements and plan preparation.

Many people believe they can simply convert an existing house into a day care facility. That is not true. Most homes are typical wood frame construction with paneling or half inch sheet-rock on the walls. This does not meet the minimum one-hour protected exterior and bearing wall construction required in some instances. Most homes have paneling which is not rated for minimum interior finish flame spread requirements. Windows and doors in single family dwellings often lack the minimum height and width dimensions. Houses are usually not properly accessible to the physically handicapped.

The National Fire Protection Association's Life Safety Code (NFPA 101) is the primary document for fire and life safety requirements enforced for day care facilities. This code covers requirements such as construction, exits, emergency lighting, hazard protection, interior finish, floor finishes, fire alarms, smoke detectors, corridor protection, electrical equipment and heating ventilation and air conditioning systems. Other referenced NFPA codes and the handicap accessibility standards (ADAAG) are also applicable.

All plans and specifications submitted must indicate in detail the features of safety required by the code. Insufficient detail on plans often results in the review architect rejecting the plans for resubmittal. You can access the Plan Review Application Form by clicking on the link. Please note the fee structure on the Plan Review Applications page. Also, note that a licensed architect may be required when submitting plans to the Office of State Fire Marshal.

Inspections

Once plans have been submitted and reviewed, and construction of renvoations work is complete, the Certificate of Completion provided with the plan review must be signed by the architect/engineer or owner and forwarded to the appropriate district office of the State Fire Marshal. This will prompt the required final inspection for occupancy and licensing. There are four district inpsection offices which are located in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette and Shreveport. Visit the District Offices page to find the appropriate office for your area.

Annual inspections are also made to satisfy the day care licensing requirements for the Department of Social Services. These inspections are scheduled a few months prior to the anniversary date of the license. The advanced inspections allow the day care operators ample time to correct deficiencies so the license may be renewed.

Inspections are made to assure compliance with the fire and life safety requirements primarily from the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101). However, the Office of State Fire Marshal is also mandated to enforce the requirements for accessibility by the physically handicapped. This includes accessible parking, curb cuts, smooth and level sidewalks, ramps to buildings, door threshold heights, door widths, aisles and corridor widths, bathroom accessibility and other features of a building which will provide equal opportunity for a person with physical limitations (ADAAG).

Inspections are conducted utilizing the codes that were in effect when the building or structure was first occupied as a day care center. In other words, if a day care center has been operating as a building for several years, the facility would not have to comply with the most current code but instead, with the code in effect at the time of initial occupancy. LAC 55:V:103B permits inspections to be made in accordance with the time frame and code as follows:

Building Occupied As Day Care Facility Applicable Edition of Life Safety Code
Prior to 1975 1967
01.01.75 - 01.01.80 1973
01.01.80 - 09.01.81 1976
09.01.81 - 09.01.86 1981
09.01.86 - 02.14.89 1985
02.14.89 - 05.30.92 1988
06.01.92 - 12.31.94 1991
01.01.95 - 05.31.98 1994
06.01.98 - 06.30.01 1997
07.01.01 - 06.30.04 2000
07.01.04 - present 2003

There is no service fee for the fire and life safety inspection. However, we will also perform an inspection of potable hot water heaters; a fee is charged for this inspection and the required certificate (see Mechanical Safety - Boilers page for more information). This inspection is normally done by the State Fire Marshal inspection personnel, but in some cases it is performed by the day care center's insurance company.

The rules and regulations established in accordance with Revised Statutes 23:531 et seq require inspection of the combustion gas vent, utility connection, pressure relief device, flame impingement, etc. (Boilers shall be inspected by the Boiler Section).

 

NFPA REQUIREMENT INFORMATION

BASIC LIFE SAFETY CODE REQUIREMENTS (FROM NFPA 101, 2000 EDITION)

The following information are requirements of the Life Safety Code.   Special notes have been added for clarity.  Reference to the "authority having jurisdiction" means the Office of State Fire Marshal.

Day care centers are occupancies where more than twelve (12) clients receive care, maintenance and supervision by other than their relatives or legal guardian for less than twenty-four (24) hours per day.

Where a facility houses more than one age group, the requirements for the younger shall apply throughout the facility unless the area housing the younger is maintained as a separate fire area.

Place of religious worship shall not be required to meet the provisions of the section in order to operate a day care while religious services are being held in the building.

Mixed Occupancies

Centers located in a building mixed occupancies shall be separated from the other occupanices by minimum 1-hour rated fire barriers or be protected as a "separated occupancy".
Exception to (a) Centers in assembly occupancies used primarily for worship

Centers in apartment buildings.

If the two exit accesses from the day care center enter the same corridor as the apartment occupancy, the exit accesses shall be separated by a smoke partition having not less than a 1-hour fire resistance in the corridor.  The smoke partition shall be located so that is has an exit on each side.

Where day care centers have clients twenty-four (24) months or less in age, or incapable of self-preservation and are located one or more stories above the level of exit discharge or where day care centers are located two or more stories above the level of exit discharge, provide smoke barriers to divide stories into a minimum of two smoke compartments.

The occupant load for which means of egress shall be provided for any floor shall be the maximum number of persons intended to occupy that floor but not less than the number calculated on the basis of one person for each 35 square feet of net floor are used by the clients.

Means of Egress Requirements

Components of means of egress shall be limited to the following:
Doors
Panic Hardware or Fire Exit Hardware - Any door in a required means of egress from an area having an occupant load of 100 or more persons shall be permitted to be provided with a latch or lock only if is panic hardware or fire exit hardware complying with 7.2.1.7.
Special Locking Arrangements - Special locking arrangements complying with 7.2.1.6 shall be permitted.

Closet Doors - Every closet door latch shall be such that children can open the door from the inside of the closet.

Bathroom Doors - Every bathroom door lock shall be designed to permit opening of the locked door from the outside in an emergency.  The opening device shall be readily accessible to the staff.

Stairs

Smokeproof Enclosures

Ramps

Exit Passageways

Areas of Refuge

Number of Exits - Each floor occupied by clients shall have not less than 2 remotely located exits.

Arrangement of Means of Egress

Dead ends in corridors shall not exceed 20 feet.

Travel Distance to Exits

(1) The travel distance between any room door intended as an exit access and an exit shall not exceed 100 ft.

(2) The travel distance between any point in a room and exit shall not exceed 150 ft.

(3) The travel distance between any point in a sleeping room and an exit access door in that room shall not exceed 50 ft.

Illumination of Means of Egress shall be continuous during the time that the conditions or occupancy require that the means of egress be availabe for use.

Emergency Lighting shall be arranged to provide the required illumination automatically in the event of any interruption of normal lighting.

(1) Interior stairways and corridors.

(2) Assembly use spaces.

(3) Flexible and open plan buildings.

(4) Interior or windowless portions of buildings.

(5) Shops and laboratories.

Marking of Means of Egress shall have signage for all exit doors.

Special Means of Egress Features

Windows for Rescue and Ventilation - Every room or space normally subject to client occupancy, other than bathrooms, shall have at least one outside window for emergency rescue and ventilation.  Such window shall be openable from the inside without the use of tools and shall provide a clear opening of not less than 20" in width, 24" in height and 5.7 sq. ft. in area.  The bottom of the opening shall be not more than 44" above the floor.
 

Protection

Protection of Vertical Opening - Any vertical opening shall be enclosed and protected.  Buildings with multiple-story communicative spaces shall be protected by a supervised sprinker system.

Hazardous Areas - Rooms or spaces for the storage, processing or use of materials specified below shall be protected in accordance with the following:

(1) Separation from the remainder of the building by fire barriers having a fire resistance rating of not less than 1 hour or protection of such rooms by automatic extinguishing system.
(a) Boilers and furnace rooms.

(b) Rooms or spaces used for the storage of combustible supplies in quantities deemed hazardous by the authority having jurisdiction.

(c) Rooms or spaces used for the storage of hazardous materials or flammable or combustible liquids in quantities deemed hazardous by recognized standards.

(d) Janitor closets.

(2) Separation from the remainder of the building by fire barriers having a fire resistance rating of not less than 1 hour and protection of such rooms by autmoatic extinguishing system.

(a) Laundries

(b) Maintenance shops, including woodworking and printing areas.

(c) Rooms or spaces used for processing or use of combustible supplies deemed hazardous by AHJ.

(d) Rooms or spaces used for processing or use of hazardous materials or flammable or combustible liquids in quanities deemed hazardous by AHJ.

(3) Where automatic extinguishing is used to meet the requirements of this section, the protection shall be permitted in accordance with 9.7.1.2.

Interior Finish

Interior Wall and Ceiling Finish shall be Class A or B.  Interior finish in stairways, corridors and lobbies shall be Class A.

Interior Floor Finish shall be Class I or Class II within corridors and exits.

Detection Alarm

Day care centers, which are not housed in one room, shall be provided with a fire alarm system.

Initiation - Initiation of the required fire alarm system shall be by manual means and by operation of any required smoke detectors, and required sprinkler systems.

Occupant Notification - Occupant notification shall be by means of audible and visible alarm.

Emergency Forces Notification - Fire Department notification shall be provided.

Detection - A smoke detection system shall be installed in multi-room day care centers, with placement of detectors on each story in front of doors to the stairway and in the corridors of all floors occupied by the day care center.  Detectors also shall be installed in lounges, recreation areas, and all sleeping rooms in the day care center.

Corridors - Exit access corridors within day care centers shall be constructed of fire barriers having not less than a 1 hour fire resistance rating in accordance with 8.2.3.

Building Services

Special Protective Covers - Special protective covers for all electrical receptacles shall be installed in all areas occupied by clients.

Unvented fuel-fire room heaters shall not be permitted.

Any heating equipment in spaces occupied by children shall be provided with partitions, screens, or other means to protect children under six (6) years of age from hot surfaces and open flames.  If solid partitions are used to provide such protection, provisions shall be made to ensure adequate air for combustion and ventilation for the heating equipment.

Operating Features

NOTE:  Documentation of fire drills may be required for review by inspectors.  The documentation shall include:

(1) Date of drill

(2) Time of drill

(3) Roster of children participating in drill

(4) Name(s) of staff participating in drill

(5) Duration of time of drill in minutes and seconds

(6) Any notes of abnormalities effecting drill

An approved fire evacuation plan shall be executed no less than once per month.

Fire prevention inspections shall be conducted monthly by a trained senior member of the staff.  A copy of the latest inspection shall be posted in a conspicuous place in the day care facility.

An adequate staff shall be on duty, alert, awake and in the facility at all times when clients are present.

NOTE:  Family Day-Care Homes (4-6 clients) and Group Day-Care Homes (7-12) have different requirements than listed above.

 

This page was last modified on February 27, 2012