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Residential Floors of John Hancock Center Not Protected with Fire Sprinklers

ORLAND PARK, IL (February 18, 2018) – A fire on the 52nd floor of the former John Hancock Center seriously injured a man early Sunday morning. The unit was not protected with a fire sprinkler system. While the commercial floors have fire sprinklers, the residential units from the 44th to the 92nd floor do not have fire sprinklers.

According to Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), this is another example of an iconic Chicago high-rise building that most people expect to be up to date with the latest protection from fire. “But it’s not,” he said. “They keep rolling the dice on whether a fire is going to be deadly or not.” Two years ago five people were injured when a fire broke out in a unit on the 50th floor. “Without fire sprinklers in every unit, the next fire could well be deadly,” he added.

Fire sprinklers prevented a car fire from spreading on the 7th floor of the building’s garage February 11th. According to the Chicago Fire Department, fire sprinklers kept the fire in check, allowing firefighters time to stretch a hose line to extinguish the fire.

“There’s no good excuse for lacking sprinklers in Chicago,” Lia said. “The infrastructure is already in place in most of our high-rise buildings because they have a standpipe, which is typically in a stairwell so firefighters can access it for their hoses. In the Hancock building, the infrastructure is there because half the building is sprinklered,” Lia said.

“The commercial and retail space is protected. The garage is protected. Now the residents who sleep in the building also need to be protected,” he said.

In December, Congress passed tax reform legislation that includes accelerated cost recovery for the installation, upgrade or retrofit of fire sprinkler systems in their properties. Building owners are encouraged to consult with their tax advisors.

About the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) NIFSAB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting progressive legislation, raising public awareness, and educating code officials and governmental policy makers by demonstrating the proven performance of fire sprinklers in saving both lives and property. For more information, visit www.Highriselifesafety.com.

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