Sprinklers Could Have Prevented Death & Injuries in Eight-Story Senior Living Center

On the night of December 11, a fire killed a 51-year-old, wheelchair-bound male and injured two females in an eight-story senior living building at 737 East 69th Street in Chicago.

“Fire deaths can occur in residential buildings on any floor, not just those higher than eight stories or above the reach of the highest fire department ladders,” says Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Fire sprinklers control or even extinguish a fire while it is still small and before it begins to spread. They allow occupants to safely escape.”

Also, national fire statistics prove that fire deaths are more prevalent in buildings occupied by senior citizens and other high-risk individuals, such as people with disabilities, due to their inability to escape the area of the fire’s origin.

Flashover, the extreme temperature at which a fire becomes unsurvivable, occurs much faster in modern residential fires. According to research from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the National Institute of Standards & Technology, the contents of today’s residential buildings — polyurethane foam-filled furniture and other synthetic objects such as carpet and electronics burn faster and cause billowing, poisonous smoke.

Lia says the quick response of fire sprinklers prevents fire injuries and deaths in all building types, but they are especially important in the places where people live.

“Needless fire deaths and injuries such as those in this senior living building can easily be prevented with the presence of fire sprinklers,” adds Lia. “Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.”

 

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