Successful Activations (Jan/Feb/March 2014 Edition)

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


February 2014


Northside College Prep High School Chicago Fire Department

Fire sprinklers extinguished a fiery explosion in a cooking class in the high school, according to Chicago Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford. The fire occurred when students ignited a gas burner to heat hot chocolate. Although five students were injured in the initial explosion, the fire sprinklers kept the fire from spreading elsewhere. “The sprinkler did its job,” added Langford. See the full article. Chicago Sun-Times

Odyssey Country Club Tinley Park Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in the banquet facility controlled a fire in the kitchen office, preventing it from extending beyond the room. Smoke damage was minimal and the business was back in operation following the fire. According to Senior Fire Inspector Dan Riordan, approximately 150 gallons of water were used by the fire sprinkler system, but typical fire growth without fire sprinklers would have required in excess of 1,000 gallons. “This has been Tinley Park’s fifth fire event — four residential and one commercial —since 2012 that has been controlled by a building’s fire sprinkler system,” added Riordan. Dan Riordan, Senior Fire Inspector, Tinley Park Fire Department  

January 2014


Franklin Center High-Rise Chicago Fire Departments

A fire sprinkler system in the Chicago commercial high-rise at 227 W. Monroe  suppressed a fire that was caused by an automobile in a lower level parking garage. See the full article.  

University of Illinois – Sherman Hall Urbana and Champaign Fire Departments

The residence hall’s fire sprinkler system controlled an electrical fire on the sixth floor of the building. The students were safely evacuated and no one was injured. WCIA-TV  

Lake Forest Library Lake Forest Fire Department

A single fire sprinkler controlled the spread of a fire that was ignited when a broken light bulb fell on a chair in an employee break room of the library. Lake Forest – Lake Bluff Patch

Colona House East Moline Fire Department

One fire sprinkler activated in a trash chute to control a trash bin fire in a maintenance room of the 10-story, senior living high-rise apartment complex. None of the building’s approximately 150 residents were injured and they were able to return to their homes that night. Although the trash bin was charred by the fire, it was still able to be used by residents. “This is proof positive that properly installed fire sprinklers work,” said East Moline Fire Inspector Jay McCowan. “No one was injured and there was minimal damage.” Jay McCowan, Fire Inspector, East Moline Fire Department  

December 2013


Edgewater Walk Apartments Tinley Park Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in the three-story apartment building contained a fire that began on a mattress in the bedroom of one of the units. The fire sprinkler prevented the fire from spreading past the point of origin and minimized fire and smoke damage. Damage was limited to only $1,000 and the apartment was still habitable after the fire. No one was injured. Dan Riordan, Senior Fire Inspector, Tinley Park Fire Department

Apartment Building Bloomingdale Fire Protection District

On the day after Christmas, the three-story Glendale Heights apartment building’s fire sprinkler system extinguished a cooking fire in one unit. No injuries were reported. According to Batallion Chief Richard Kurka, the resident of the apartment unit was not home at the time. Her two dogs survived, but would likely have suffered from smoke inhalation had there been no fire sprinklers present in the building. Daily Herald  

The Downtowner Bloomington Fire Department

On Christmas Eve, the fire sprinkler system in the eight-story assisted living apartment building was credited with completely extinguishing a fire that began near an overstuffed chair and end table in one of the units. Bloomington Fire Department’s Public Information Officer Brad McCollum said the outcome could have otherwise been tragic for the apartment unit’s resident and devastating to other residents and the building owners had it not been for the effectiveness of the fire sprinkler system. “The capability of a properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler system to contain the spread of fire and in many cases such as this, extinguish the blaze before first responders even arrive on the scene is the reason that so many important structures have these life- and property-saving systems,” McCollum said. “Apartment buildings like The Downtowner are not the only types of structures that can and do benefit from these systems. Places of worship, places of business, and most importantly the places that you call home can all be protected by a fire sprinkler system. I encourage you all to learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the ravages of fire.” Pantagraph  

Bartlett Community Center Bartlett Fire Protection District

One fire sprinkler activated to control a dryer fire in a utility room in the community center. The fire was contained to the dryer and its contents. There was limited damage. “This incident is an example of the value of a fire alarm system to provide early occupant notification and a fire sprinkler system where one sprinkler activated to control the fire and significantly limit the amount of damage and fire spread to the building,” said a press release from the fire protection district. Michael Kelly, Assistant Chief, Bartlett Fire Protection District  

John Deere Harvester Works East Moline Fire Department

Two fire sprinkler in the large manufacturing complex extinguished a fire caused by spilled resin in a oven that is used to mold plastic parts. Employees of the facility safely evacuated. They were able to continue production in other areas of the complex following the fire. Jay McCowan, Fire Inspector, East Moline Fire Department  

November 2013


Nursing Home East Moline Fire Department

Two fire sprinklers held a fire in check in a detached maintenance shed, preventing it from spreading to the main building of the nursing home which is a few feet away from the shed. The crews were able to extinguish the remaining fire with tank water. There was no smoke in the main building and none of the residents were evacuated. Jay McCowan, Fire Inspector, East Moline Fire Department  ]]>

2014-02-21T18:09:14-06:00February 21st, 2014|0 Comments

Fire Sprinklers Extinguish Fire in Chicago High School Cooking Class, Highlighting the Importance of School Fire Safety

On February 19, a fiery explosion occurred during a demonstration in a cooking class at Northside College Prep High School in Chicago. The fire occurred when students ignited a gas burner to heat hot chocolate. According to Chicago Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford, the fire shot up to the ceiling and the school’s fire sprinkler system quickly extinguished it. “The sprinkler did its job,” said Langford. Although five students were injured in the explosion, it could have been even worse says fire safety proponent Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “We never want to see students injured in any type of fire or explosion. But it’s reassuring to know that the fire was not able to spread and injure others within the classroom and other parts of the school thanks to the quick action of the fire sprinkler system,” states Lia. “Incidents like this fire demonstrate the need for fire safety protection in our schools. As a parent, I would want to know that my child is safe from fire while at school.” Unfortunately, Lia says some Illinois schools are choosing not to include fire sprinklers in new renovations solely because state law does not require them to do so. On February 13, the school board in west suburban Forest Park voted against including fire sprinklers in the new addition on Betsy Ross Elementary School because it was only 5,800 square feet — 1,400 square feet below the requirement for fire sprinklers. The Illinois State Board of Education mandates fire sprinklers in any new school construction or additions that meet or exceed 7,200 square feet in a 30-month period, or when alterations in a 30-month period affect one or more areas of a school building which cumulatively are equal to 50% or more of the building’s square footage. “While fire alarms and regular fire drills are essential in schools, only fire sprinklers will work to control or extinguish a fire before firefighters arrive, allowing students and faculty to safely escape,” adds Lia. “School boards need to consider how many generations of children will be affected when they choose not to include fire sprinklers.”


2014-02-19T22:18:25-06:00February 19th, 2014|0 Comments

Site of Three Fires Since 2007, Chicago High-Rise Opts to Ban Smoking Instead of Installing Fire Sprinklers

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, sees the smoking ban as a “band-aid” and a blatant distraction from the larger issue and a major deficiency in the building’s infrastructure, which is the lack of fire sprinkler protection. “I’m not against a smoking ban for health reasons, but cigarettes are not the only source of fires. By avoiding the installation of fire sprinklers, the condo owners, management and misinformed residents are essentially shrugging off other leading causes of potentially deadly fires, such as candles, heating equipment and cooking. Are they going to ban those as well?” Lia questions. “People’s activities inside their residences are virtually uncontrollable and not easily regulated, but fire sprinklers account for human error when fires do occur.” The high-rise was built in 1968 prior to the Chicago’s fire sprinkler requirements for residential high-rises in 1975. All pre-1975 residential high-rise buildings built without fire sprinklers are required to comply with the City of Chicago’s Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) program by January 1, 2015, which may or may not include a requirement for the installation of fire sprinklers in each individual high-rise. According to city records, the high-rise at 2626 North Lakeview Avenue passed the city’s LSE inspection on September 12, 2013, even though its owners chose to forgo installation of lifesaving fire sprinklers. Lia says the recurrence of fires in the residential high-rise building and the ability for high-rises to pass inspection without fire sprinkler protection demonstrate the shortcomings of Chicago’s life-safety ordinance in comparison with national model codes that require fire sprinklers. “This smoking ban does not properly address the fire issue and sets a poor precedent for other high-rises,” adds Lia. “Unfortunately, fires will continue to occur in this high-rise and other unprotected high-rises throughout Chicago, proving that residents are not as fire-safe without fire sprinkler protection.” According to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, there have been 34 high-rise fires in the last year, resulting in four fire deaths.]]>

2014-02-14T18:52:49-06:00February 14th, 2014|0 Comments

Automobile Fire at Franklin Center High-Rise Suppressed by Fire Sprinkler System

Chicago Fire Department reported that a fire sprinkler system in the Franklin Center commercial high-rise at 227 W. Monroe suppressed a fire that was caused by an automobile in a lower level parking garage. “Too often we hear about the unsprinklered fires that cause major damage and injuries or deaths, but it’s even more important to highlight when larger fires are prevented thanks to the quick response of fire sprinklers,” says Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Today, a fire sprinkler system suppressed a car fire and prevented any harm to humans. That is 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 successful activation is a reminder for owners of older commercial high-rise buildings to stay on track with their fire sprinkler retrofits in order to comply with the Chicago High-Rise Safety Substitute Ordinance. The ordinance states that all commercial high-rise buildings built before fire sprinklers were required in 1975 must be retrofitted with a fire sprinkler system by 2017. Owners were required to have their buildings two-thirds retrofitted by January 1, 2013.]]>

2014-01-30T18:02:21-06:00January 30th, 2014|0 Comments

Record-Low Fire Deaths In Chicago in 2013, But There’s More To Be Done

At a recent Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications news conference, Chicago Fire Department officials cited Chicago’s record-low fire deaths in 2013. They noted that smoke detectors, fire sprinklers and other fire safety improvements, public education and advances in emergency medical service were key factors that minimized fire deaths. The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) recognizes Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford for acknowledging fire sprinklers as one of the important tools that has helped reduce the number of fire deaths in Chicago to as little as 16 deaths. This is the first definitive statement by a Chicago official that points out the difference fire sprinklers are making in saving lives. Now, Chicago officials need to establish ONGOING promotion of residential fire sprinklers in their communications with the media and their public fire safety education efforts. Unfortunately, too often Chicago fire officials report on fire tragedies and deaths, but not on the successes of fire sprinkler activations that have saved lives. In Chicago, the public does not typically hear the stories about fire sprinklers activating and preventing total-loss fires or stories of fire sprinklers helping residents escape a building while they control or extinguish a fire before fire crews arrive. In fact, the Chicago fire and building department websites offer no information about fire sprinklers and their life- and property-saving benefits. Even the Chicago Fire Department’s Survive Alive House at the Fire Academy, which is located at the point of origin of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, contains no display or mention of fire sprinklers. The same holds true for the City’s building department. The portions of its website that are meant to educate high-rise building occupants about complying with the City’s Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) do not explain fire sprinkler retrofit installations, which can reduce LSE compliance costs and save lives. Since residential high-rise owners can pass Chicago’s LSE with measures other than installing quick-response residential fire sprinklers, the LSE system writes off the people in the space where the fire originates and only intends to prevent the spread of fire to other units in buildings. Fire sprinklers activate to stop flashover and contain or extinguish the fire in its place of origin. Yet Chicago’s very own Tridata Study of the Chicago Fire Department from 1999, which is often quoted and rarely implemented, states in Recommendation #3.4 that “The Chicago Fire Department should help educate the public as to the availability and advantage of new residential sprinkler technology, especially for new residential properties.” The recommendation is one of the easiest and least costly recommendations to implement, however, it has largely been ignored. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) even has vast amounts of “ready-to-use” public education materials to support its position that all Americans should be protected from death, injury and property loss resulting from fire in their residence, and that all homes should be equipped with both smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers. Chicago is heading in the right direction by promoting smoke alarms, other fire safety improvements and public education programs. However, fire officials need to further implement fire sprinkler requirements and education to continue decreasing fire deaths in the future. Fire sprinkler education resources that can be posted on websites and implemented in public education initiatives are readily available free of charge from organizations such as USFA/FEMA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC). The USFA’s latest initiative, Fire is Everyone’s Fight, calls for the fire service and public to unite in a collaborative effort to reduce home fire injuries, deaths and property loss. It is NIFSAB’s hope that Fire Commissioner Santiago and Mayor Emanuel look at the City of Chicago’s success of reducing the number of fire deaths and make a commitment to bring the number down to zero fire deaths in the future by starting fire sprinkler education programs now. It is never to late to educate and build on this most recent success.]]>

2014-01-29T15:53:19-06:00January 29th, 2014|0 Comments

Successful Activations (Oct/Nov/Dec 2013 Edition)

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


A Routine Miracle on 34th Street

Macy’s (New York City)

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, a fire at the iconic Macy’s store on 34th Street at Herald Square in New York City would be devastating. The flagship store, with over a million square feet of retail space, is used as the focal point for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is broadcast nationally. That’s why special note should be taken of the blurb that appeared on the NFSA website regarding a fire that took place on October 26th. It broke out in the basement area at 8 pm, a time when the store was filled with shoppers.  The store was evacuated, with 106 firefighters responding in 25 units, but the store’s fire sprinkler system was credited with preventing the blaze from spreading to higher floors.  Thanks to fire sprinklers, the show will go on — another routine miracle on 34th Street. Courtesy of Jack French (United States Alliance Fire Protection)  

November 2013


Hampton Inn Rockford Fire Department

The hotel’s fire sprinkler system extinguished an electrical fire in an office area. Guests were able to return their rooms and no one was injured. There was only $15,000 in estimated damage. Rockford-Register Star  

October 2013


Apartment Building Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District

The fire sprinkler system in the two-story apartment building contained a kitchen fire. No one was injured. Chicago Tribune  

Manufacturing Building Rockford Fire Department

Two fire sprinklers controlled a fire that appeared to be caused by oil burning in a machine in the factory. The fire was contained to the one machine. WREX-TV  

September 2013


Pioneer Gardens Chicago Fire Department

A fire sprinkler extinguished a fire in a single unit on the sixth floor of the eight-story high-rise, which is an assisted living senior housing facility.  

America’s Best Value Hotel Matteson Fire Department

A single fire sprinkler activated on the first floor of the four-story hotel and restricted a fire from spreading that had begun in a heavily loaded clothes dryer. The involved clothes dryer and its contents were a complete loss but there was no structural involvement. “The activation of the fire sprinkler system kept the public safe and allowed this business to continue to operate immediately after the fire incident,” said Matteson Fire Department’s Sam Anello. Sam Anello, Shift Commander, Matteson Fire Department  

March 2013


Alcoa Kama Manteno Community Fire Protection District

One fire sprinkler coontrolled a fire in the facility that originated in an electrical motor and the pipe insulation above the motor. “The fire sprinkler system extinguished a majority of the fire and prevented its spread prior to our arrival,” stated Manteno Fire Chief Scott O’Brien. “After ventilation and replacing the fire sprinkler, the facility was able to continue production.” Scott O’Brien, Fire Chief, Manteno Community Fire Protection District  ]]>

2013-10-22T17:29:16-06:00October 22nd, 2013|0 Comments

Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board Questions High-Rise Fire Safety Ten Years After Deadly Cook County Administration Building Fire

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) questions the safety of occupants who live in residential high-rise buildings that were built before fire sprinklers were required in building codes. Following the Cook County Administration Building fire, retired Judge Abner Mikva was commissioned by Cook County to investigate and issue a report. Meanwhile, James Lee Witt Associates was commissioned by the State of Illinois to conduct an independent review. Both reports concluded that fire sprinklers could have prevented the six deaths and recommended that the City of Chicago adopt an ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in all commercial and residential high-rise buildings. In December 2004, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance requiring all commercial buildings be retrofitted with fire sprinkler systems. To keep projects on track, the City instituted a three-phase compliance timeline with one-third of each building protected by January 1, 2009, two-thirds protected by January 1, 2013, and fully sprinklered by January 1, 2017. That same ordinance also required all residential buildings built prior to 1975 that do not have fire sprinklers to pass a City of Chicago Life Safety Evaluation (LSE). The City’s LSE process reviews the existing life-safety features in residential high-rises and establishes commitments to repair deficiencies. According to the Chicago LSE, all residential high-rises must have one- or two-way communication systems and doors/corridors that are fire-rated for one hour. But to fully comply, additional measures may need to be taken, many of which are intrusive to occupants. By installing fire sprinklers, however, buildings can bypass those additional measures entirely. Tom Lia, executive director of NIFSAB, said he commends the City of Chicago for moving forward with the fire sprinkler requirement in commercial high-rise buildings. “At least those six lives that were lost will not be in vain. The terrible tragedy did make most commercial high-rise buildings safer for the thousands of people who work in Chicago,” he said. Lia said unfortunately the same is not true for residential high-rise buildings where data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) report that more fire deaths occur.  The concern is that the Chicago LSE requirements are less stringent than those in national model codes. The weaknesses in the LSE were evident following a fire on the thirty-sixth floor of the residential high-rise building at 260 East Chestnut on December 10, 2009. An 84-year-old woman died in the fire because the residential high-rise had passed its LSE but was not required to install fire sprinklers. The national model code, NFPA 101: Life Safety Code, has been adopted in major U.S. cities such as Boston and Philadelphia, and calls for an engineered life-safety system or fire sprinkler system in both commercial and residential high-rises. While the State of Illinois enacted the 2000 edition of NFPA 101 and the code’s fire sprinkler requirements in January 2002, Chicago claims home rule, allowing it to follow its own fire codes instead of State code requirements and countering the recommendations from the James Lee Witt Report. “Instead the City continues to stand by its weak LSE requirements but has failed to maintain enforcement of its own LSE process,” Lia said. “Therefore, the City had to extend its compliance deadline from January 1, 2013, to January 1, 2015, when it was discovered just months before the deadline that most buildings had barely even begun the multiyear process. In the meantime, tragic fires continue to injure and take the lives of occupants in residential high-rises that are not in compliance with the City’s LSE,” he added. Lia said he also commends Cook County for completing the installation of a fire sprinkler system in the Cook County Administration Building one year after the deadly fire. The City also retrofit the Daley Center with a fire sprinkler system and is in the process of retrofitting City Hall. However, there still remain hundreds of residential high-rise buildings that fall below today’s national codes whether because they have failed to stay on track with the City’s LSE timeline or because the LSE has allowed those residential high-rises to remain without fire sprinkler protection.  ]]>

2013-10-16T19:36:22-06:00October 16th, 2013|0 Comments

Successful Activations (August/September 2013 Edition)

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


September 2013


Emeritus at Burr Ridge Tri-State Fire Protection District

The fire sprinkler system in the nursing home/assisted living center contained a fire caused by a resident trying to dry clothes in a microwave. Fire crews arrived to provide final extinguishment. See full Fire Sprinkler Times story. Chicago Sun-Times  

Liedman Hall – Monmouth College Monmouth Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in one of the college’s women’s dormitories activated to control an early morning fire that occurred in a unit on the second floor. The two occupants were asleep at the time of the fire, however, one was awakened by the smoke. They escaped safely along with everyone else in the building, which has a capacity of 120 women. College officials credited the combination of the quick response of the occupants and the effectiveness of the fire sprinkler system, smoke alarm system, and magnetic fire doors for everyone’s safe exit. The college retrofitted the dormitory with fire sprinklers in 2011, well ahead of the January 1, 2013, deadline mandated by the state’s Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act. Monmouth College website  

August 2013


Metal Fabrication Plant Mundelein Fire Department

Two fire sprinklers extinguished a fire that began when a spark from a metal-grinding process ignited some exhaust system filters in the 65,000-square-foot metal fabrication plant. Damage was limited to some product and the second shift of employees was able to go to work later that day. Mark Gaunky, Lieutenant, Mundelein Fire Department

Deer Path Inn Lake Forest Fire Department

The historic hotel’s fire sprinkler system extinguished a small dumpster fire in an interior garbage room. Michael Gallo, Lieutenant, Lake Forest Fire Department  

Binny’s Beverage Depot Highland Park Fire Department

After an elderly woman mistakenly crashed her car through the liquor store’s display window and ignited a fire that was accelerated by alcohol, the fire sprinkler system activated and kept the fire under control until fire crews arrived to extinguish it. The driver was treated for minor smoke inhalation and no one was injured in the store. The store was able to reopen only 2 days later and adjoining businesses were not damaged. “It’s a great testimony to the sprinkler system here because there were 100 boxes of alcohol she hit,” Highland Park Fire Chief Patrick Tanner said. “That could really get going (on fire).” Highland Park News  

Danville Public Library Danville Fire Department

A fire sprinkler extinguished an early morning arson fire that began in a small book return room of the library. Damage was limited to only $3,000 to the building and $1,000-1,500 for its contents. Commercial-News  

Auto Repair Shop Chicago Fire Department

Fire sprinklers held an automobile fire in check at an auto repair shop, which is located next to the Fire Museum of Greater Chicago’s warehouse for large fire apparatuses. Kurt Van Dahm, Retired Firefighter

K1 Speed Addison Fire Protection District #1

Four fire sprinklers held a fire in check under a table in the kitchen of the indoor go kart racing facility until fire crews arrived on scene. Damage was contained to the table involved and slight charring on the wall where the table was situated. “Without the fire sprinkler activation, we would have had a total loss of the kitchen,” said Addison Fire Marshal Mike Toika. Mike Toika, Fire Marshal, Addison Fire Protection District #1  

July 2013


Commercial Building Springfield Fire Department

In the less than three minutes that it took for firefighters to respond, a commercial building’s fire sprinkler system contained and extinguished a blaze in a third-floor closet that appeared to have began in a pile of debris. The third floor of the building is vacant. State Journal-Register  

June 2013


Sprint Bourbonnais Fire Protection District

One fire sprinkler controlled a fire in the cellular phone store until fire crews arrived. The business was able to reopen the following day. The other eight occupancies in the strip mall were unaffected and resumed business the same day of the fire. Ed St. Louis, Fire Chief, Bourbonnais Fire Protection District  

Townhouse Lake Zurich Fire Rescue Department

A single fire sprinkler in the the townhouse’s basement held a fire in check that began when a dehumidifier unit failed. The owners were alerted by the smoke alarm system and evacuated safely so no injuries were reported. According to a fire department press release, the residents will be able to occupy the home. “Without the sprinkler system, this fire would likely have spread and caused significant damage. As it was in the basement and early morning, it may have gone undetected for a longer period.” Jeff Radtke, Captain, Lake Zurich Fire Rescue Department  

SpringHill Suites Warrenville Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in the hotel controlled a fire in a fifth-floor room, limiting the fire damage to that room. No injuries were reported. Daily Herald

April 2013


Instant Results UV Free Tan & Spa Mount Prospect Fire Department

A single fire sprinkler controlled a fire caused by an electrical/mechanical malfunction of a portable sauna unit. Other businesses within the shopping center were not affected by the fire and were allowed to remain open. The fire, which occurred on a Friday, caused only $10,000 in damage, and the business was able to reopen on the following Monday. “Without an automatic fire sprinkler and fire alarm system, the loss to the business could have been significant,” said Mount Prospect Fire Chief John Malcolm. John Malcolm, Fire Chief, Mount Prospect Fire Department  

Hanover Place Tinley Park Fire Department

The fire sprinkler system in the senior living facility extinguished an unattended cooking fire that began in the electric oven of one unit’s kitchen. Fire damage was limited to $5,000, only affecting the oven/stove and refrigerator. No injuries were reported. Dan Riordan, Senior Fire Inspector, Tinley Park Fire Department  ]]>

2013-08-26T16:16:52-06:00August 26th, 2013|0 Comments

NIFSAB Concerned About Recent High-Rise Fire Sprinkler Misinformation

Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), is working to get the facts straight about retrofitting fire sprinklers in Chicago high-rise buildings built prior 1975, before fire sprinklers were required. That’s because there is a lot of misinformation about fire sprinkler costs and code compliance currently circulating among building owners and managers, their associations, real estate associations and some Chicago elected officials. According to Lia, most of the misinformation is about cost and not understanding how fire sprinklers are retrofit in existing high-rise buildings. “These groups are claiming the costs are three to four times higher than the actual completion costs documented by fire sprinkler contractors who have recently retrofit high-rise buildings here in Chicago at four to eight dollars per square foot,” Lia said. “Unfortunately, they are making these claims in press releases, letters to their members and constituents, and on their websites. The fact is there are dozens of major cities around the country that require fire sprinklers be retrofit in older high-rise buildings including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston,” he added. Most buildings built prior to 1975 already have the basic infrastructure in place for retrofitting a fire sprinkler system such as the water supply, standpipes and in many cases the fire pumps. The standpipes simply need to be tapped and extended to the tenant spaces. High-rise occupants may also benefit from insurance savings for both tenant and building common areas. The groups are up in arms about the Illinois State Fire Marshal‘s June 28th filing of rule changes to update the state fire code, NFPA 101: Life Safety Code (LSC), from the 2000 edition to the 2012 edition. The debate is based on the argument that the City of Chicago has not complied with the state code because city officials believe home rule applies — especially since the 2003 deadly Cook County Administration building fire where six people died. In addition to the current Illinois state fire marshal, each preceding state fire marshal before him has warned the city that the state fire code is written in such a way that home rule does not apply. Following the 2003 fire, the state commissioned former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt to do an independent review of the incident. According to the Witt Report, “Cook County Failed to Ensure that the Cook County Administrative Building was Compliant with State Fire Code through Installation of an Automatic Fire Sprinkler System or Engineered Life Safety System.” The 2000 edition of the LSC requires fire sprinklers in all existing buildings. But in 2004, the City passed their own high-rise ordinance that requires all commercial high-rise buildings be retrofit, while residential buildings have less stringent codes. “Unfortunately, data shows that most high-rise fire deaths occur where people live,” notes Lia. The Chicago ordinance requires residential high-rise buildings pass a Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) that is less stringent than the national standard listed in the NFPA 101: Life Safety Code adopted by the state. This is evidenced by a fire on the thirty-sixth floor of the building at 260 East Chestnut that claimed the life of an 84-year-old woman on December 10, 2009. Prior to the fire, this building passed the Chicago LSE. Upgrading to the 2012 edition of the LSC does not change the requirements for fire sprinklers in high-rises. In fact, the proposed rule adds some leeway for building owners by allowing fire sprinklers to be installed over the course of 12 years. “We support the state fire marshal and members of the Illinois fire service, especially the firefighters who risk their lives every time there is a fire call,” states Lia. “A fire in a high-rise building without fire sprinklers is one of the most dangerous calls. It can be difficult for firefighters to reach the upper floors since the highest fire ladder in Chicago only extends eight floors for effective exterior rescues. Above that, firefighters must solely use stairs and elevators while carrying fire hoses and other heavy equipment. It’s time for people to hear the facts and quit being plagued with misinformation. We need to do what’s right so that no more fire deaths occur in Illinois.”  ]]>

2013-08-01T19:38:59-06:00August 1st, 2013|0 Comments

June 10-13: NFPA Conference & Expo Coming to Chicago

Click on the image to download PDF flyer[/caption] From June 10-13, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) will host its 2013 Conference & Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago. On Tuesday, June 11, from 9:30-10:30 a.m., Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, will present “Using Live Side-by-Side Burns to Enhance Controlled Training Fires and Educate and Advocate for Greater Safety.” The presentation will include video from a public education session that involved a side-by-side demonstration in a Roselle home acquired for fire suppression purposes. Also, NIFSAB and the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association will be exhibiting in booth #1154, and the National Fire Sprinkler Association will exhibit in neighboring booth #1156. Click here for details and to register for the event. Also, follow the NFPA Conference blog for information that won’t be found anywhere else.  ]]>

2013-04-01T10:22:49-06:00April 1st, 2013|0 Comments