[cifnmedia] Fire Department Faulted in Chicago Blaze

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 00:01:27 -0800 (PST)

Updated: 11-26-2003 11:31:30 AM

Fire Department Faulted in Chicago Blaze

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CHICAGO (AP) -- The fire department failed to gain control of the public 
address system during a high-rise blaze that killed six people, many of them 
trapped in locked stairwells, an investigation concluded. 

The city's report on the Oct. 17 fire also said the lack of a rule requiring 
immediate top-to-bottom searches of the stairwells helped lead to the deaths, 
the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday. The report 
was to be released Wednesday morning. 

The broke out on the 12th floor of the 35-story Cook County administration 
building. All the victims died of smoke inhalation and were found in the upper 
floors of the high-rise; many of them had been in one of the smoke-filled 

The report also faulted building managers, saying they ordered tenants to 
evacuate the building into the locked stairwells contrary to their training in 
the city's high-rise evacuation procedures. 

``A number of things didn't go the way that every agency and all involved would 
have wanted it to go - from the first telephone call to the evacuation 
announcement to the locked stairwells until these people were located,'' Cortez 
Trotter, executive director of the city's Office of Emergency Management and 
Communications, told the Sun-Times. 

Trotter said the original evacuation order was made before firefighters 
arrived. Once fire officials were at the scene, however, they did not take 
control of the public-address system, losing the opportunity to stop employees 
from evacuating by way of the locked stairwells. 

The victims were not found until 90 minutes after the fire broke out, after 
firefighters had brought it under control. 

The city's report, based on interviews with fire department and other city 
employees, was designed to examine the city's response to the fire. 

Officials have said that firefighters followed department procedures by 
conducting primary and secondary searches on floors closest to the fire. 
Firefighters also went to specific floors where they had gotten calls for 
assistance, but there wasn't a top-to-bottom search of the building's 
stairwells until the fire was brought under control. 

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but lawyers representing victims 
of the fire suspect a fluorescent light fixture malfunctioned 

Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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