Pioneer FD: Change baby box law

The Safe Haven Baby Box can be installed in Ohio right now, but volunteer fire houses want to be able to install it as well. Currently, a fire station must have someone on duty 24/7 in order to install the box. (WNWO/Marcus Espinoza)

Just days ago a fire chief in Northwest Indiana found a newborn inside a "Safe Haven Baby Box."

It happened Tuesday night at a volunteer fire station in Michigan City.

The baby box set off an alarm and the Coolspring Fire Chief was there within 5 minutes and found the newborn.

Fire officials say this is the first time nationwide that a baby has been safely surrendered at a Safe Haven Baby Box.

Indiana has a safe haven law that allows for a newborn infant to be given up without fear of arrest of prosecution.

These boxes can be installed in Ohio.

But right now there aren't any and the Pioneer Fire Station wants to change that.

"That story in Indiana this is what it's all about. You save one child's life I mean you can't put a price tag on that," said Village of Pioneer Mayor Edward Kidston.

The Safe Haven box is a last resort for parents.

It allows them to leave their newborn in a safe place without fear of prosecution.

Ohio's current Safe Haven law lets moms and dads take their child to a medical worker, police officer or fire official without fear of prosecution.

A law signed by Governor Kasich in January added baby boxes to the law but does not allow them to be installed at volunteer fire stations.

State Rep. Robert McColley wants to change that.

"In order for one of these boxes to be used, they may only be left unlocked if there's somebody physically present at the fire station," said McColley.

Board member Don Bertke who designed the box says safe guards are built into the device to allow for a quick response.

"When the mother opens the door she's going to take the baby, place the baby in the box the sensor located up here in the corners going to notify the alarm and when it closes the second alarm goes off," said Bertke.

There's also a manual button the mother or father can press when dropping the baby off that sets off a third alarm. Once the door is closed on the baby box, it locks and cannot be opened from the outside.

Representative McColley says he hopes to have discussions with state legislators within the next couple of weeks with hope of a change coming sometime next year.

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