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

On the night of February 23, a fire was contained to a single condo unit by a fire sprinkler system on the 14th floor of the Erie on the Park high-rise in Chicago. The information was obtained through an email sent to the residents by the property manager of the 24-story, 125-unit condo building at 510 West Erie Street. The building was required by the city to install fire sprinklers when it was completed in 2002.

Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit 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.”


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