Ordinance on high-rise sprinklers withdrawn

August 2, 2013 9:52:51 AM PDT
The state fire marshal is withdrawing a proposal to change Illinois' fire code that would have required older Chicago high rises to be retrofitted with sprinklers.

Many residents were upset with the proposal, saying the cost of putting sprinklers in older buildings could have been so expensive some people would have had to give up their homes.

Right now, high rise built before 1975 in Chicago are exempt.

Experts say today's fires burn hotter because of glues, laminates and other new materials used in construction. Sprinkler companies said even old buildings can be retrofitted inexpensively.

Many owners of older condos, however, didn't buy it, saying they've retrofitted their buildings up to the current fire code, installing door closures for example, and can't afford projects they feel may cost them $30,000-$40,000 per unit.

Owners of older commercial buildings could have been forced to eliminate architectural features or close shop as well.

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