Fire in John Hancock Center Condo Shows Stark Contrast in Fire Protection Between Residential and Commercial Occupancies

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “This was a small fire that was able to be quickly extinguished through other means, but what happens when this building suffers a major fire and lives are lost in the residential areas of the building?” adds Lia. “Even though the tourist areas of the building are sprinklered, having such a fire in a renowned Chicago high-rise would surely leave a blemish on the city’s tourism industry as well.” The large gap in the level of fire safety between commercial and residential high-rises (or portions of high-rises) is due to the lax guidelines of Chicago’s Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) for residential high-rises. The guidelines fall well short of nationally accepted building and fire safety standards. Residential high-rises, which were required to comply with the LSE by January 1, 2015, were able to pass the evaluation without installing fire sprinklers, instead choosing less effective fire safety features. “Fire sprinklers are the only technology that actively control a fire and provide residents with a safe route of escape,” adds Lia. “High-rise owners, residents and prospective buyers must be mindful of the presence or absence of fire safety features, especially fire sprinklers, in their buildings.”  ]]>

2015-02-27T19:44:26-06:00February 27th, 2015|0 Comments

Fire in Chicago’s Erie on the Park High-Rise Contained by Fire Sprinkler System

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, says that the successful fire sprinkler activation is an excellent reminder of the life-saving benefits that fire sprinkler provide in high-rises. But he also points out the glaring difference in fire protection between newer and older high-rises in Chicago. “There are hundreds of residential high-rises in Chicago that were built before the city’s fire sprinkler requirements in 1975 that do not contain fire sprinklers,” notes Lia. Approximately 100 of the older high-rises chose to install fire sprinklers to comply with the city’s Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) ordinance deadline of January 1, 2015. That’s another 100 high-rises that will be in the “with” column for fire sprinklers, leaving less and less high-rises “without.” Yet, the majority of the remaining high-rises chose other measures that will not fully protect residents from fires. “As evidenced by last night’s sprinkler save, fire sprinklers are the only technology that actively control a fire and provide residents with a safe route of escape,” adds Lia. “High-rise owners, residents and prospective buyers must be mindful of the presence or absence of fire safety features, especially fire sprinklers, in their buildings.”  ]]>

2015-02-25T18:13:26-06:00February 25th, 2015|0 Comments

Recent Fires in Chicago High-Rises Draw Attention to City’s High-Rise Life Safety Evaluation Deadline

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Although the high-rise passed its LSE inspection, the owner did so without installing fire sprinklers. There is no proactive technology in the building to stop fires while they are small and before they spread.” Nearly 100 of the residential high-rises affected by Chicago’s LSE have already chosen to install fire sprinklers for LSE compliance. However, as the deadline nears there still are many building owners and condo boards deliberating their options — many of which can be avoided by installing fire sprinklers. “There are only two types of residential high-rises in Chicago — those with fire sprinklers and those without fire sprinklers,” says Lia. “High-rise owners, residents and prospective buyers must be mindful of the presence or absence of fire safety features, especially fire sprinklers, in their buildings.” “The recent success of the fire sprinkler activation in Adler Place is clear evidence of the life- and property-saving benefits of fire sprinklers versus the damage caused by the LaSalle Terrace fire,” adds Lia. “Without fire sprinklers in Adler Place, the condo and neighboring units could have suffered major damage and experienced months of restoration. Even worse, it could have potentially ended in injuries or deaths to residents and responding firefighters.”  ]]>

2014-12-29T17:17:14-06:00December 29th, 2014|0 Comments

Sprinklers Could Have Prevented Death & Injuries in Eight-Story Senior Living Center

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Fire sprinklers control or even extinguish a fire while it is still small and before it begins to spread. They allow occupants to safely escape.” Also, national fire statistics prove that fire deaths are more prevalent in buildings occupied by senior citizens and other high-risk individuals, such as people with disabilities, due to their inability to escape the area of the fire’s origin. Flashover, the extreme temperature at which a fire becomes unsurvivable, occurs much faster in modern residential fires. According to research from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the National Institute of Standards & Technology, the contents of today’s residential buildings — polyurethane foam-filled furniture and other synthetic objects such as carpet and electronics burn faster and cause billowing, poisonous smoke. Lia says the quick response of fire sprinklers prevents fire injuries and deaths in all building types, but they are especially important in the places where people live. “Needless fire deaths and injuries such as those in this senior living building can easily be prevented with the presence of fire sprinklers,” adds Lia. “Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.”  ]]>

2014-12-12T19:38:53-06:00December 12th, 2014|0 Comments

Northwest Side Apartment Fire Fatality Provides Glaring Evidence of Deficiency in Chicago’s Multifamily Building Codes

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB). “Under the city’s current code, if the same building where the fire occurred were built today, it would not be required to be protected with fire sprinklers. That’s unthinkable” “Had fire sprinklers been present in this fire, they likely would have prevented the injuries and death, providing safe routes of escape so no residents would have had to jump from their units.” Over 105 neighboring communities to Chicago have adopted national model codes that protect multifamily buildings, yet Chicago has no such requirements. “It is clear that Chicago’s suburban communities have embraced a higher level of fire safety in multifamily buildings that is recommended by national codes,” notes Lia. “We hope that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city council will take a closer look at adopting the current model codes that include fire sprinkler protection in multifamily occupancies to protect the future of Chicago.” “Our prayers go out to the young victim, his family, and all others who were injured in the fire,” he adds.  ]]>

2014-11-10T19:39:32-06:00November 10th, 2014|0 Comments

500 Fire Service Personnel Attend Fire Prevention Week Luncheon

illinois-fire-safety-allianceOn October 9, 2014, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance hosted the 73rd Annual Fire Prevention Week Luncheon to highlight and honor leaders in fire safety and burn prevention in Illinois. More than 500 fire service personnel from around the state attended the event, which coincides with Fire Prevention Week. Various awards were presented to those who had gone above and beyond in fire safety and burn prevention education and causes over the last year. The Corporate Responsibility Award, given to a corporation that has responsibly gone above and beyond the norm by providing fire safety or burn prevention education to the public was presented to Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for its development and distribution of two DVDs that target school-aged children with fire safety and prevention messages. [caption id="attachment_2845" align="alignright" width="302"]WGN Morning Show "Around Town" host Ana Belaval discusses fire sprinklers with Bartlett FPD Fire Marshal Mike Figolah in 2013. WGN Morning Show “Around Town” host Ana Belaval discusses fire sprinklers with Mike Figolah in 2013.[/caption] The Life Safety Award was presented to Assistant Chief Michael Figolah of the Bartlett Fire Protection District, previously with the Mount Prospect Fire Department. The award is given to organizations, departments, or individuals that have achieved a pattern of excellence in bringing life safety into the lives of others. Assistant Chief Figolah was given a standing ovation by all in attendance after receiving his award. Figolah’s work over the previous 10 years has made him one of the strongest voices in the state in the fight to keep the sale and use of commercial fireworks to consumers from happening. Several attempts of legalization from former governors and current legislators have been made, but Figolah has been able to work with the elected officials, informing them of the devastation of live and property that could result from the sale and use of fireworks in Illinois. He was also recognized for his expertise in home fire sprinkler education, including his use of the side-by-side fire and sprinkler concept, as a spokesperson for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s FEMA Grant projects and for development of national guidelines for conducting live fire sprinkler demonstrations. Special Recognition awards were given to three Mount Prospect firefighters for their development of a smoke alarm installation program for the elderly in their community. Fire & Life Safety Educator Jim Miller, Fire Inspector Cory Pikora, and Fire Inspector Andy Skic were recognized for their pattern of excellence through the fire safety program that they developed and were able to share with other public educators. Their coordination allowed the to install 10-year-battery-life photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms in the homes of nearly 400 Mount Prospect residents age 65 and older. In total, more than 1,400 smoke alarms were installed in one of the village’s most at-risk demographic groups. The final award, the Wayne Luecht Memorial Award, was bestowed upon Illinois State Representative Carol Sente for her established pattern of excellence through fire safety and burn prevention that has benefited the public outside of her immediate jurisdiction. Representative Sente has excelled in her duties while leading the fire service to recognize public education as an important tool. As a previous vollunteer and counselor at “Camp I Am Me,” the IFSA’s camp for young burn survivors, Sente saw first-hand the effects of fires and knew that advocacy for prevention and safety measures was an important role in Illinois. As soon as she became a State Representative in 2009, Representative Sente joined the Fire Caucus and became an advocate for fire safety legislation. Because of her commitment and devotion, she now serves as co-chair of the Fire Caucus. Upon receipt of the award, Representative Sente was given a standing ovation.   The luncheon concluded with a keynote presentation from a survivor of the Our Lady of the Angels school fire. John Raymond was just a fifth-grade student in 1958 when the Chicago school building became engulfed in flames, claiming the lives of 92 children and three nuns. Raymond provided attendees with a perspective of a survivor, community member, and as the son of the school custodian who was considered a suspect at the time of the event, only to be later honored with the Medal of Valor for actions taken on that day. The moving presentation gave insight into what happened on that cold day in December, an event which lead to sweeping changes in school fire safety regulations nationwide.  ]]>

2014-11-01T19:21:49-06:00November 1st, 2014|0 Comments

Fire Sprinklers Avert Fire in Chicago’s Historic University Club High-Rise Building

On October 15, a fire in the historic University Club high-rise building in the Chicago Loop neighborhood was controlled by the building’s fire sprinkler system before fire crews arrived on scene. Two fire sprinklers prevented the fire from spreading beyond its area of origin in a second-floor meeting room. “Thanks to the quick response of the fire sprinkler system, no one was hurt or injured in the fire and businesses were able to quickly get back in operation,” says Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Fire sprinklers provide life- and property protection in buildings of all types.” Lia adds that fire sprinkler success stories such as this one are the reason Chicago continues to retrofit older high-rises with fire sprinklers.

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2014-10-16T21:42:54-06:00October 16th, 2014|0 Comments

Successful Activations (April-August 2014 Edition)

Download a sprinkler save report to record your fire department’s latest successful fire sprinkler activations.

 

June 2014

 

Grimm Metal Fabricators Lombard Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in the building controlled an early morning fire in the rear portion of the warehouse. No one was in the building at the time. Damage to the building and its contents was only about $10,000. “Basically the sprinkler system kept it in check,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Howell. “It could have been a much worse fire.” Daily Herald  

May 2014

 

Townhouse Hoffman Estates Fire Department

Fire sprinklers in a townhouse prevented a car fire in the unsprinklered garage from reaching into the living portions of the house. When the garage fire bowed the door into the house, two fire sprinklers activated and held the fire back. Also, the fire burned up the exterior of the townhouse and broke out a second-floor window. As the fire began entering the bedroom, the fire sprinkler in the room activated and kept the fire from coming inside the townhouse. A child was sleeping in the bedroom at the time and escaped unharmed. “All three sprinklers worked perfectly. The home was definitely saved because of the sprinkler system,” said Hoffman Estate Sr. Fire Inspector Scot Neil. Scot Neil, Senior Fire Inspector, Hoffman Estates Fire Department  

Esplanade Apartments Chicago Fire Department

A fire sprinkler system contained an automobile fire in the basement parking garage of the residential high-rise. Although smoke was able to reach its way into the high-rise building above due to a ventilation shaft, it could have been much worse had the fire sprinkler system not been present. Read more about both successful activations in this high-rise. ChicagoFireMap.net  

Spinning Wheel Apartments Hinsdale Fire Department

A single fire sprinkler extinguished a sixth-floor kitchen fire in the 17-story high-rise building. The fire began when a frying pan was left on the stove while the stove was left in the “on” position. All residents evacuated safely as the fire alarm sounded. Damage was estimated at only $6,000. “Sprinkler systems save lives and protect property,” says McElroy. “In this case it saved many lives and helped protect this building from what could have been a major catastrophe.” The successful fire sprinkler activation comes just two years after the fire sprinkler system extinguished a similar fire on the eleventh floor of the same high-rise building. The high-rise building is currently in the process of retrofitting fire sprinklers to comply with Hinsdale’s adoption of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. Roughly half of the building is protected with fire sprinklers so far, adds Assistant Chief Tim McElroy. Read more about this successful activation. Tim McElroy, Assistant Chief, Hinsdale Fire Department  

April 2014

 

Meadows Apartments Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District

Before fire crews arrived on scene, a single fire sprinkler extinguished a small stove fire in a third-floor unit of the senior apartment building in Elburn. All residents were able to evacuate safely and no injuries were reported. Quincy Herald-Whig  

Maurices Champaign Fire Department

A fire sprinkler system in the women’s clothing store extinguished a small fire before fire crews arrived, limiting damage to only $8,000 and preventing any injuries. Quincy Herald-Whig  

March 2014

 

La Quinta Inn & Suites Peru Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in the motel controlled a fire caused by an air conditioning/heating unit shorting out in one of the rooms. The fire was contained to the rooms of origin and no one was injured. Read more about this successful activation. LaSalle NewsTribune  

Coulter Court Residences Aurora Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in the condominium building controlled a cooking fire in a third-floor unit. No one was injured. Beacon-News  

North American Lighting Paris Fire Department

Fire sprinklers contained a fire to its area of origin in the factory that manufactures automotive lighting products. Paris Beacon-News  

Industrial Building Chicago Fire Department

A few fire sprinklers over a graphite furnace in the 90,000-square-foot, one-story factory controlled a fire as fire crews arrived. ChicagoFireMap.net

Lincolnwood Place Lincolnwood Fire Department

Fire sprinklers contained a fire to one unit on the fourth floor of the six-story retirement home while fire crews responded. No fire hose lines were used. Clyde Heineman, Lieutenant, Lincolnwood Fire Department  

The Stand Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company

A single fire sprinkler extinguished a fire caused by the explosion of a butane torch refill tank behind the service counter of the restaurant. Another fire sprinkler was approximately 10 feet away, but did not activate due to the quick response and cooling effect of the fire sprinkler directly over the fire. “If there were no fire sprinklers, there probably would have been enough damage that I wouldn’t have been able to reopen,” said restaurant owner Lisa Demos. Demos and her husband, Glenn Ellyn President Alex Demos, chose to voluntarily retrofit the restaurant with fire sprinklers when they bought the space a few years ago. “The cost of retrofitting the fire sprinkler system was less than it would have cost to recover from a devastating fire if the building were unsprinklered,” adds Demos. Jim Bodony, Fire Chief, Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company  

Massage Spa & Beyond Mount Prospect Fire Department

Prior to the arrival of firefighters, a single fire sprinkler extinguished a fire caused by the spontaneous combustion of oily rags in a rear leaundry room area of the spa. No one was injured. “The total damage is estimated at $10,000. Without an automatic fire sprinkler and fire alarm system the loss to the business could have been much more significant,” stated the fire department news release. Mount Prospect Fire Department news release  

February 2014

 

Village in the Park Apartments Schaumburg Fire Department

One fire sprinkler activated to extinguish a closet fire caused by an unattended candle in one of the units of the high-rise apartment building. Michael Rons, Fire Marshal, Schaumburg Fire Department  

Knapheide Manufacturing Tri-Township Fire Department

Fire sprinklers extinguished a fire caused by a malfunctioning air compressor in the Quincy plant that produces truck bodies. No injuries were reported “We got there and there was heavy smoke, but we went in and couldn’t find any fire,” said Tri-Township Fire Department Lieutenant Richard Kestner. “The sprinkler system had already put it out.” Quincy Herald-Whig  ]]>

2014-06-16T19:03:15-06:00June 16th, 2014|0 Comments

Fire Sprinklers Prove Their Lifesaving Value in Chicago Area High-Rise Fires

A single fire sprinkler prevented major damage from a fire in a Hinsdale high-rise building.[/caption] On Wednesday, May 7, a single fire sprinkler extinguished a kitchen fire in the Spinning Wheel Apartments high-rise building in Hinsdale. The fire occurred on the sixth floor of the 17-story building when a frying pan was left on the stove while the stove was left in the “on” position. According to Tim McElroy, assistant chief of the Hinsdale Fire Department, the fire sprinkler system allowed the woman and young child to escape safely as it put water on the fire. All other residents also evacuated safely as the fire alarm sounded. Damage was estimated at only $6,000. “Sprinkler systems save lives and protect property,” says McElroy. “In this case it saved many lives and helped protect this building from what could have been a major catastrophe.” The successful fire sprinkler activation comes just two years after the fire sprinkler system successfully extinguished another kitchen fire on the eleventh floor of the same high-rise building on April 28, 2012. That fire was caused by unattended cooking oil left on a stovetop. Fire sprinkler limited the damage from that fire to $5,000 and no one was injured. The high-rise building is currently in the process of retrofitting fire sprinklers to comply with Hinsdale’s adoption of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. Roughly half of the building is protected with fire sprinklers so far, adds McElroy. “The occurrence of two successful fire sprinkler activations in this high-rise building in just as many years greatly proves the value of retrofitting fire sprinklers in older high-rises,” says Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Fire sprinklers protect occupants and allow them to safely escape. For high-rise building owners and managers, fire sprinklers protect their investment.” The day after the fire sprinkler activation in Hinsdale, a fire sprinkler system in the basement-level parking garage of the Esplanade Apartments high-rise on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago contained an automobile fire. Earlier this year on February 25, northwest suburban Schaumburg reported a successful fire sprinkler activation in the Village in the Park residential high-rise building. One fire sprinkler activated to extinguish a closet fire caused by an unattended candle in one of the units. In 2003, Schaumburg required fire sprinklers in all high-rises, including existing buildings by June 2012. Another northwest suburb, Elgin, is currently in the process of retrofitting its high-rise buildings with fire sprinkler systems per through requirements in its codes.  ]]>

2014-05-09T21:40:43-06:00May 9th, 2014|0 Comments

Fire Sprinkler Prevents Significant Damage from Automobile Fire at Chicago High-Rise

Early in the morning on May 8, the Chicago Fire Department reported that a fire sprinkler system in the Esplanade Apartments high-rise at 900 N. Lake Shore Drive activated to contain an automobile fire in a basement parking garage. Smoke was able to reach its way into the high-rise building above due to a ventilation shaft, however, Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, says the conditions could have been much worse had fire sprinklers not been present to put water on the fire early and keep it from spreading. “Too often we hear about the unsprinklered fires that cause major damage and injuries or deaths, but it is even more important to highlight when larger fires are prevented thanks to the quick response of fire sprinklers,” states Lia. “This fire is an example of why fire sprinklers are in the national model codes. They are vital to life and property protection in high-rises and all other occupancies as well.” Lia also notes that the sprinkler activation is a reminder for owners of older residential high-rise buildings to stay on track with their fire sprinkler retrofits in order to comply with Chicago’s Life Safety and High Rise Ordinance. The ordinance states that all residential high-rise buildings built before fire sprinklers were required in 1975 must complete a Life Safety Evaluation and repair any deficiencies by the extended deadline of January 1, 2015. To bypass more invasive and costly measures, fire sprinklers can be installed to comply with the ordinance. Most buildings already have the infrastructure in place, which includes a standpipe and fire pump.]]>

2014-05-09T15:01:28-06:00May 9th, 2014|0 Comments