An early morning fire Friday at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago triggered another successful activation of a fire sprinkler system. This fire sprinkler save was the second to have occurred at U.S. Cellular Field since its opening in 1991.
Only 12 hours before the season opener for the Chicago White Sox against the Cleveland Indians, a fire was reported in a first-floor storage unit near Gate 2 at the stadium. The fire was out by 3:00am, approximately 35 minutes after it started. One firefighter sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
In an interview for the Chicago Tribune, Sheena Quinn, a spokeswoman for the Sox, said the storage room contained posters and other extra promotional materials that easily could be replaced.
“We had our overnight crew here. They were alerted by the alarm system that there was a fire in our warehouse, which was contained by the sprinkler system. The Chicago Fire Department arrived, extinguished the fire completely, and now we’ll be ready for baseball,” Quinn said in an interview with CBS Chicago.
Although fire sprinklers played a clear role in containing this fire, fire sprinkler systems are unfortunately not a mandated part of Chicago’s fire code, which still leaves out protecting new buildings. “Fire sprinkler saves like this one are a good reminder that the city of Chicago needs to update its code to protect all new buildings. While the code requires fire sprinklers in large places of assembly such as U.S. Cellular Field, many other new buildings like multifamily apartments where people live are being built without fire sprinklers — the ultimate fire protection,” stated Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board.
“This one was more than a save for fire sprinklers, it was a save for baseball, and it really shows how important fire sprinklers are in the early containment of a fire,“ says Lia. “Because of fire sprinklers, and the quick actions of the Chicago Fire Department, there are a lot of fans out there who are going to enjoy an opening day they might not otherwise have been able to see. This fire might have been a curve ball for opening day, but fire sprinklers definitely hit a home run.”