Burned day care home had been cited over smoke detectors

The operator of a South Side day care where a basement fire left a 2-year-old dead last Wednesday was cited in November for failing to maintain working smoke detectors, according to a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services.

But spokesman Kendall Marlowe said a DCFS staffer who went to the scene on Wednesday was told by the commanding firefighter that they had information indicating "there were working smoke detectors at the time of the fire."

The victim was identified as Dajon Taylor.

Five other children were led to safety before  fire engulfed the home in the 8400 block of South Saginaw. A firefighter using a thermal imaging camera discovered Taylor in a closet in a rear bedroom on the first floor and carried him out of the facility.

Thomasine Porter, the operator of Porter's Day Care, has been licensed since December 1996 to operate a day care home in the basement and first floor of a 1 and 1/2 story home, Marlowe said. The license allows for eight children in the daytime, plus four additional after school.

An annual licensing visit on November 14, 2007 resulted in three citations including, insufficient record keeping, insufficient staff training certification and "lack of working smoke detectors."

Licensing requirements mandate one working smoke detector per floor.

Marlowe said he did not know if the citation meant the home had no working detectors or not enough.

"I don't know if that means they literally had zero or only had one on one floor," he said.

Porter was given until Nov. 21, 2007 to correct the problem, he said.