High Rise Fire Safety in Chicago, Part IV

As a recap, in our first post on this subject, we defined how the Chicago High Rise Ordinance originated.  In our second post, we looked at why the compliancy rate was low.  In our previous post, we discussed how a residential high rise life safety score is determined.  Let’s now look at what the impact of non-compliance is.

As we enter 2014, Chicago high rises that are not compliant with the Chicago High Rise Ordinance have some decisions to make that will impact them structurally and financially.  Most of these buildings have already had a life safety evaluation performed and have determined a compliancy action plan.  In a non-scientific survey of some of these building managers, we have found that decision makers are holding off on the work due to:

  • A belief that the deadline will be pushed back for a third time (the original deadline was 2007, then delayed to 2012, then delayed to 2015).
  • The cost of the work
  • The intrusiveness of the work
  • Planning to address it during the summer of 2014

In the interest of business planning, we have kept in close contact with Chicago officials regarding the likelihood of another deadline postponement.  We’ve been told that there is no intent or even consideration of moving the deadline back.  This position is backed by action by the city in the form of an ordinance requiring residential high rises to put their life safety compliancy status on all leasing and sales documents.  Additionally, non-compliancy fines increased from $200 – $500/day to $1,000 – $2,500/day.

This leads us to the financial aspect of the decision making.  As the deadline grows nearer, the availability of qualified installers and equipment suppliers will decrease.  The longer building owners wait, the more the work will cost, as the available labor pool decreases.  The cost of labor will not get cheaper, but the quality of work may suffer as the more reputable and experienced firms become booked.  Firms like Affiliated Fire Systems know how to meet Chicago design requirements and how to navigate the approval process efficiently.  Less experienced firms will lose time and money on resubmissions and installation corrections.  Waiting for the summer to address a process that may take months from start to finish or rolling the dice on a deadline extension will only end up costing owners more money and may lead to a loss of control over how their building’s infrastructure is affected.  We strongly urge decision makers for these affected high rise buildings to contact Affiliated Fire Systems for an objective, no cost presentation that lays out a timeline based on your evaluation recommendations, existing equipment and the city approval process & requirements.  This will at least give you get an idea of how long it will take and how much this is going to cost.  The presentation can be done at board meetings or property management offices at your convenience (after hours included).  Our goal is to help you make informed decisions based on real data & your specific considerations, rather than having to scramble at the last minute.

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).

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