High Rise Fire Safety in Chicago

PresTowers II

The Chicago High Rise Ordinance was established in 1975 to ensure that occupants of buildings eighty feet and taller had a reasonable amount of protection from smoke and fire while egressing the building or waiting in place. It is comprised of a number of codes found in different chapters of the Chicago Building Code (CBC). However, the ordinance did not apply to the approximately 1,300 high rise buildings within the city limits built before 1975.  After 9/11, the safety of occupants in these ‘grandfathered’, or ‘pre-ordinance’ buildings was revisited and the Chicago Life Safety Ordinance was establish.  This ordinance called for previously exempted high rises to install sprinkler systems.  Pre-ordinance high rises that are classified as commercial occupancies (Class B)  were allowed to install the sprinkler systems in phases, to be completed by 2017.  These high rises are generally compliant or meet current requirements. In contrast, for pre-1975 multi-tenant residential high rises, the ordinance compliancy rate barely reaches double digits.  How could this happen?  Check back soon or contact us to find the reason!

Affiliated Fire Systems has the equipment, expertise and support you need to install a problem free fire alarm and/or emergency voice system. If you have any questions regarding your life safety needs, contact us via our ‘Contact Us’ page on our website, or email me directly at generowe@affiliatedinc.com.

About Gene Rowe

Gene Rowe serves as the Director of Business Development for Affiliated Customer Service. He brings twenty three years of fire alarm and emergency voice systems experience to the table with both an operational and marketing viewpoint. A US Army veteran, NICET certified, an executive board member of the IL-AFAA and a member of the NFPA, he began his career establishing operational expertise as a technician, developed graphic skills with CAD design as a general engineer, gained a ‘big picture’ mindset by moving to project management and finally a marketing perspective directing business development efforts. By interfacing with a broad range of diverse organizations such as the AFAA, CAA, AIA, CEA and the IFIA, he combines concerns of the owner, designer of record, contractor, distributor and approving authority to bring a unique perspective to Affiliated.

An avid marathon runner, he resides in west suburban Chicago with his wife and two sons. He's served the community as a Cub Scout Leader, as well as coaching multiple levels of travel and park district basketball and baseball teams. Professionally, he serves as the Treasurer and is on the Board of Directors for the Illinois chapter of the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (IL-AFAA).


  1. […] a recap, in our first post on this subject, we defined how the Chicago High Rise Ordinance originated.  In our second post, we […]

  2. […] week we introduced the Chicago Life Safety Ordinance and some of its requirements. Click here to review. This week we’ll answer the question we left off with: Why are some high rises […]

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