INSPECTORS who carried out visits to pre-schools found widespread failures to comply with regulations governing fire safety.
The concerns emerged in a series of newly published reports of inspection of pre-schools by the HSE in parts of Wicklow. The reports revealed:
* No up-to-date servicing information for fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
* No fire-safety register with the maintenance record of the fire-fighting equipment.
* In one creche inspected in March this year, the last available information on servicing of fire equipment was dated two years earlier.
* Another creche had no fire-drill procedure on display.
Inspectors who visited the Poppins creche in Coolgreaney Road in Arklow found there was inadequate evidence to demonstrate that each child's learning and well-being was adequately being provided for.
Children were not given food or drink during the two-and-a-half hours of the inspection and there were no adequate procedures in place to summon medical assistance in an emergency – nor did the register contain adequate records of vaccinations received by each child.
In response, management wrote to the HSE saying it had updated its food and doctor policy.
The Cabinet has given approval to bring forward the proposed legislation on pre-schools, which will introduce a system of registration and give the authorities greater powers in the areas of regulation and enforcement.
There are currently 39 inspectors, and 10 new inspectors will also be appointed to ensure that childcare facilities comply with the standard, Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said.