Nine Injured in Englewood High Rise Fire Not Protected with Fire Sprinklers

ORLAND PARK, IL (April 19, 2018) – Nine people were seriously injured, including three children and a firefighter, after a fire broke out on the 13th floor of a high-rise building in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. The 21-story apartment building was not protected with fire sprinklers. The injured occupants were transported to the hospital in serious but stable condition. The firefighter was treated and released for difficulty breathing. According to 5th District Chief Rosalind Jones, 31 people who lived on the 13th floor have been displaced. The American Red Cross was assisting them.

According to ABC7 Eyewitness News, the fire began at 1 a.m. Residents frantically tried to escape the fire and smoke. Some residents reported that the elevators were not operating, leaving them to shelter in place. The building was cited by the city of Chicago for work on the elevators without a permit.

In Chicago, fire sprinklers were required in all high-rise buildings built after 1975. Older buildings without fire sprinkler protection are required to retrofit or pass the city’s Life Safety Evaluation (LSE). According to records filed with the City of Chicago, the building was not compliant with the city’s Life Safety Evaluation.

According to Tom Lia, NIFSAB Executive Director, records show that the building owner has appeared in court and has not complied with the LSE in over 15 years. “Court cases are fine, but they take time. Fifteen years is too much time. Building owners need to be fined every day that they are not in compliance. As long as the building is not sprinklered, people living in the building and firefighters are at risk,” Lia said.

“It is fortunate that there were no deaths in this fire. Now three children and five adults are injured. Dozens of people have to find another place to live,” Lia added. “The outcome would have been much different if the building would have been protected with fire sprinklers. This wouldn’t have been a news story. People would not have been transferred to the hospital. Typically the only people who would have been briefly displaced would have been the people living in the unit where the fire occurred, not the entire floor,” Lia added.