This morning, a fire occurred on the fourth floor of 3130 North Lake Shore Drive, the same unsprinklered residential high-rise where Shantel McCoy was killed in a 2012 fire.
Following the 2012 fire, the Illinois State Fire Marshal cited the building for 19 violations, including not having a fire sprinkler system, which is required by the state’s adoption of the 2000 edition of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code in 2002.
Tom Lia, a former fire official and executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, says that fires keep happening in Chicago’s older residential high-rises because the city does not follow the state code’s requirement for fire sprinklers, which was also verified by the James Lee Witt Report after the deadly 2003 Cook County Administration Building fire in 2003.
Instead the city has enforced its own Life Safety Evaluation ordinance, which allows residential high-rises to pass without installing fire sprinklers. The owners of the high-rise at 3130 North Lake Shore Drive chose not to install fire sprinklers and the building passed its inspection on August 5, 2014.
“Without fire sprinklers, there’s no way to stop fires in the living spaces of the high-rise,” states Lia. “As evidenced by the unfortunate death of Shantel McCoy in 2012 and continued fires, it’s clear that without fire sprinklers residents lives are continually at risk.”