Deadly Chicago Fire Kills Eight People, Raises Fire Code Questions

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Chicago, IL -- An apartment fire in the Little Village neighborhood killed six children and two adults, serving as an example of the necessity of working fire alarms and fire sprinklers.

Below is a press release for the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory explaining the details of the event.


 

Orland Park, IL (August 26, 2018) – The deadly fire in a three-story apartment building that killed six children and two adults in the Little Village neighborhood early this morning stands as a convincing reminder of the importance of working smoke alarms and fire sprinklers and their important role in today’s codes. 

Today’s building codes require new apartments over 30 feet to be protected with fire sprinklers. Chicago’s current code requires sprinklers in new high rise buildings, but not apartment buildings less than 80 feet.



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 According to Tom Lia, Executive Director, Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), fire sprinklers were not required when this apartment building was built, and sadly, Chicago codes do not require fire sprinklers if this same building were built today.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires are more deadly today due to modern furnishings made out of synthetics that burn quickly and produce deadly, toxic smoke. A fire can become deadly in less than two minutes (NFPA.org 2018).

“Smoke alarms warn you when you have a fire. Fire sprinklers stop a fire from becoming deadly,” Lia said. “Chicago needs to look at the data. Two minutes is not enough time to escape a fire, especially when people are sleeping and there are children in the home who cannot escape by themselves,” he added.

Earlier this summer, a massive fast-moving fire in Prospect Heights spread to three apartment buildings. More than 100 families lost their homes and all of their belongings.



“Fortunately, there were no fatalities. That fire occurred during the day when people were awake or not home. The outcome may have been different if the fire occurred at night while people were sleeping,” Lia said. “That fire was devastating with more than 500 people displaced, $10 million in property damage, not to mention the cost involved when 50 fire departments responded to that fire,”

“If fire sprinklers had been installed, heat from the fire would have activated the closest sprinkler within seconds, automatically controlling the fire or putting it out. The damage would have been limited to the room of origin.”

Unlike Chicago, Prospect Heights codes will require fire sprinkler when this apartment complex is rebuilt.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, prior to this fire, fatalities in Illinois are higher this year compared to this time last year with 78 deaths. 

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