Archive for the ‘Fire Safety’ Category

USA Fire becomes 1st Accredited Residential Fire Sprinkler Contractor

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

In a July 1st 2013 press release by the prestigious Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), United States Alliance Fire Protection was recognized as the very first accredited residential fire sprinkler contractor. The official, nationwide launch of the program will occur during the CPSE Awards Dinner on August 15th  2013

The accreditation process is rigorous. A self assessment form covering eight distinct categories each with required core competencies and preferred performance indicators must be submitted, each with supporting verifiable evidence. CPSE then evaluates the submission to determine a company’s fitness for accreditation.

Accreditation is designed to establish a new level of trust. Local authorities, homebuilders and ultimately homeowners can be confident that an accredited residential fire sprinkler contractor stands behind their work and conducts their business with integrity.

According to Bill Winzentsen, Vice President of Residential, “We at USA Fire are honored to receive this distinction and pledge to live up to the high standards demanded by it.”

The High Rise Fire Sprinkler Retrofit Debate Continues In Chicago

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The Chicago Tribune reported an update today essentially reminding us that the status quo thrives; the forces of life safety battle on against the forces of accountancy. Does this debate ultimately boil down to an actuarial end-game of what a “statistical” life is worth? Perhaps, provided of course it’s not your own life or the life of someone that transcends the value of money to you.

Wouldn’t objectivity (and good sense) demand that all stakeholders have as thorough an understanding of fire dynamics as economics before betting people’s lives on it? Putting it another way, if you live in a pre-1975 high rise in Chicago your fate (and that of all your neighbors) is in the hands of others. Manual firefighting and rescue in a high rise structure is among the most challenging scenarios fire departments face. To imagine it like TV or Hollywood is to be gravely naive.

In the end, fire is a natural phenomenon that does not discriminate. Ignoring the dangers involved in high rise living without fire sprinklers has two effects: increased risk combined with decreased control over your own fate. Intentionally avoiding retrofit on an economic basis only switches the currency with which you may pay.

High Rise Life Safety

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) has constructed a new website devoted to the benefits of retrofitting fire sprinklers into residential high rise buildings. While the site does specifically focus on Chicago, the consumer-oriented information presented significantly raises fire safety awareness for anyone considering high rise living. Before signing a lease or accepting a dorm assignment, consider carefully what your options will be in a fire emergency when you are above the reach of the highest ladder truck.

As posted elsewhere on this website, United States Alliance Fire Protection (USA Fire) has the experience and corporate stability necessary for bringing complicated retrofit projects in on-time and on budget. We understand that sprinklers consistently save lives and property everywhere they are installed and maintained, but we are especially proud of making high rise buildings a place to live.

USA Fire Protection Honored With 2011 ASA Chicago Safety Award

Friday, March 9th, 2012

United States Alliance Fire Protection is proud to report that the Association of Subcontractors and Affiliates (ASA Chicago) has once again awarded their annual safety award to us “for continuing efforts in maintaining an exemplary safety program” in 2011.

The ASA Chicago Safety Award is a 3 year look back at the safety record of the company. This is the 5th consecutive time that we have been honored with the ASA Chicago Safety Award (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011).

Dave Curran, USA Fire Protection’s Director of Safety and Risk Management, commented, “Our organization operates with the philosophy that quality, safety and productivity work collectively to deliver greater value. We are dedicated to safety and risk management and this award affirms that commitment.”

Fire Sprinklers Eighty Feet Up; A Concept Who’s Time Has Come

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The recent fatal fire at 3130 N Lake Shore Drive may not shrink from view as quickly as it might have in light of two new wrinkles. First there was the announcement that the victim’s family intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the building owner and presumably the fleeing neighbors that propped the door open. Second, the “Home Rule” showdown created by the IL State Fire Marshal citing the building owner for 19 state fire code violations. These developments are significant. Both instances challenge the autonomy of the City of Chicago and its resulting ability to quietly restore status quo. Up until 2004, the typical response to a fatal high rise fire in Chicago included much bluster but little else. Action finally did come in 2004 when the City Council passed the High Rise Substitute Ordinance adding Chapter 13-196 to the Chicago Municipal Code, creating new fire safety requirements for buildings over eighty feet tall. Unfortunately, that was followed by little enforcement culminating in December 2011 with the City Council voting to extend the Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) deadline for three more years, citing economic hardship. That unanimous vote may bring another, little known aspect to light; the actual LSE adopted by the City of Chicago is a unique document that over-values “compartmentation” relative to the nationally recognized LSE used everywhere else. This creates an avenue for residential high rise owners to avoid the expense of fire sprinklers in favor of passive protection measures which do not put the fire out. Sadly there is at least one documented case of a residential high rise that experienced a fatal fire several years ago. They did comply with the LSE requirement, but decided to install a new voice communication system to come into compliance instead of sprinklers…then experienced a second fatal fire in 2010. Stay tuned as the Chicago and national media begin to recognize a concept whose time has come.

Business As Usual In Chicago

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

In December of 2004, the Chicago City Council accomplished a monumental task; they amended the Chicago Municipal Code to improve fire safety in buildings over 80’ tall. The Substitute Ordinance as it was called added new Chapter 13-196 which prescribed many steps to be taken, timeframes for compliance and stiff fines for noncompliance. Seven years later, it is unclear to what extent compliance has occurred since the city has revealed little of that information, but some insight may be gained from a recent 49-0 City Council vote last month extending the deadline for compliance by three years citing economic hardship.
What if instead Chicago had enforced the Fines and Penalties section of the ordinance from the beginning, before times really got tough? The $500 to $1,000 per day per building revenue stream should have been attractive yet was seemingly avoided altogether. Would adopting a punitive attitude have changed the landscape enough to render life safety upgrades attractive? Would there be one less victim today?
It is sad that the only time this issue sees the light of day is immediately following another fire fatality in a high rise building. The City Council’s unanimous vote leaves no political cover for anything but regrets. The day after the most recent fatality at 3130 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged affected building owners with this statement, “I expect you to use this time to put in place a sprinkler system and the safety and security systems you need. … I don’t expect you to use the time all the way to the end.” Let’s all pray that it happens that way. The public has a short memory and it will be business as usual all too soon.

It’s The Most Flammable Time Of The Year

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Many folks have had Christmas trees set up in their homes since Thanksgiving. Fresh trees will transpire amazing amounts of water, if deprived of water they will dry out quickly and become serious fire hazards in the home. It’s true that Christmas trees contribute to only a tiny percentage of home fires but when they do the results are catastrophic. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, has a number of startling videos on their website depicting what can happen. You may be shocked. http://fire.nist.gov/tree_fire.htm