Regarding “Candle set off day care fire in Sidney” article on Page B1 of the newspaper on Sept. 26:

I was shocked by John Martins, of the Department of Health and Human Services, saying there was no need to investigate the Sidney day care center fire because lit candles did not violate any of the department’s regulations.

First, there is the question of negligent operation of a family child care center, and secondly, why was the fire discovered so late, smoke detectors or not, that the whole building was able to burn down.

My reading of the Rules for the Certification of Family Child Care Providers on shows me two potential violations that should be investigated. Obviously, the first is Rule 2.20 Compliance with the Life Safety Code. The second, Rule 2.5.4 should come into play if the operator of Jen’s Day Care ever tries to re-open or if she tries to open another day care center, based on the negligence of leaving of a candle burning unattended within the facility.

Can the department be sure an unsupervised day care child didn’t go into that room and knock the candle off its stand?

I would have preferred if Martins had said the department was investigating the fire, and although no rule currently prohibiting unattended open flames in child day care centers, that the department would see about establishing one as soon as possible. If the department knows about a problem that can endanger the lives of children in day care centers, and its rules do not address that problem, then its rules will not protect any child.

Robert E. Gross


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