What a difference fire sprinklers could have made. On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of tourists and onlookers on Michigan Avenue looked up in awe to see the 50th floor of the iconic John Hancock Center in flames from the east side. The more than 100 firefighters and six ambulances arrived at the scene. Miraculously, no fatalities occurred, but five people suffered injuries. The owner of the 50th-floor residence remained unharmed; however, the fire did not leave much of the apartment.
This fire has many residents and fire officials questioning the building’s fire safety standards. While the building does have smoke detectors, there were no sprinklers in the unit. Chicago’s fire ordinance does not require owners to install fire sprinklers in high-rises built before 1975. As we know, sprinklers could knock down fires before firefighters even arrive on the scene.
Tom Lia, the executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, further explained, “This fire is the perfect example of the flaws in Chicago’s Life Safety Evaluation System which was engineered to allow as many buildings to pass the evaluation without requiring fire sprinklers.”
Click here to learn more about USAFP’s fire sprinkler installation and maintenance!