A story of two schools in Chicago, one sprinklered and one non-sprinklered



Sprinklered School

Non-Sprinklered School

Photos courtesy of former Fire Protection Engineer Ed Prendergast.

Current Illinois School Legislation

National Fire Sprinkler Association - Illinois Chapter - Colleges


Governor Quinn signs Bill to Protect College Students from Fires in Illinois Dormitories.

Governor Quinn signs Greek Housing Bill

An ACT Concerning Higher Education - Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act HB4361

Senator Walsh, Representative Moffit, Representative Burke, and Larry Walsh of the Illinois Fire Services Association are presented with an award from NIFSAB for their work with H.B. 4361

Normal Fire Department Lt. John Grussing calls for a ground ladder to rescue him and another firefighter from the third floor of an apartment building at 102 W. Phoenix Ave. after fire cut them off from an interior stairwell. The stubborn fire produced heavy amounts of smoke.



Blair Quenches Its Thirst


Burn at UMass August 2010


Campus Safety Week 2010 August 2010


Greek Housing Ordinance August 2010


Campus Fire Information Sheet September 7, 2007


Another suspicious fire in CMU dorm February 19, 2007


Gov. Blagojevich proclaims September as “Campus Fire Safety Month” State offers tips to prevent college residence fires September 09, 2006

Fire Prompts 300 to Evacuate UIC Dorm


Champaign Retrofit Ordinance (word 2000 Format-10MB)


Federal Legislation Designates September as Campus Fire Safety Month

An ACT to Promote Installation of Fire Sprinkler Systems in Qualified Student Housing and Dormitories - College Fire Prevention Act HR128

Living with Fire, A Program for Campus and Student Fire Safety

Fatal Firelog Compilation 1/1/00 to 4/30/05 Includes College Park fire, April 30, 2005

Campus Safety - News Release, September 2, 2006

Campus Firewatch


Area Colleges Retrofit Campus Buildings.


DePaul University

Moraine Valley Community College

Olivet Nazzarine University

North Central College

Concordia University

If you are thinking of enrolling in a College with Unsprinklered Dorm, I would say;


      This is the theme of the new guide that I would like to develop as an alternative to the USFA (United States Fire Administration) “Get Out and Stay Alive” Public Education Piece.  We would not stay in a non-sprinklered hotel or motel, so why are we sending out students and children into a non-protected dormitory?

      With 188 public and private colleges in Illinois holding over 750,000 students (it is the equivalent of Illinois’ second largest city); the unprotected student population is not a small risk.  The vast majorities of those/your students are living in unprotected low-rise dorms and high-rise dorms.  With incendiary/arson the leading cause of fires in these locations accounting for 33% of the fires (that number is doubled the normal residential occupancy) then we have a great potential for fire injuries and deaths.  In the National University of Health Science Fire of January 9, 2001, in Lombard, the Wheaton College Campus fire of July 19, 2001, the Decatur Milliken frat house fire of 2001 with one death, the DeKalb Northern Illinois University High-Rise fire and the recent May 5, 2005, student apartment fire in Bloomington, IL, all are message from fire itself that the danger is ever present and waiting for the opportunity to strike.

      The choice goes back to which college and university is providing the best overall fire safety.  If fire sprinklers are part of the protection package that school should be recommended highly in that category.  The overall weight of that decision should be a high priority over all other academic reasons.  Which should place that school in the “NO CONSIDERATION” list!

In Illinois, the Life Safety Code 101, 2000 Edition has been in effect since January 2, 2002, but it only pertains to High-Rise Dorms (75 & over) so while State Law mandates these installations to retrofit several factors dictate the protection in individual municipalities.  Does your school follow the State Fire Marshal mandate?

      Private schools are covered under the individual towns’ adopted fire and building code, while public institutions are covered under the code adopted by the Illinois Board of Education.  Either way, the time is now to adopt new school policies that will address sprinkler retrofit in dorms and residence halls.

Governor Blagojevich signed The Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act into law as presented by State Senator Larry Walsh, Representative Moffit, and Representative Dan Burke, which requires all dormitories to be fire sprinklered by 2012.  Does your college have a fire sprinkler retrofit plan?

      To those schools and towns with high-rise dormitories you must get together for a sprinkler retrofit timetable and discuss the use of NFPA (National Fire protection Association) 13R and steel, copper, and CPVC (Chlorinated Poly Vinyl Chloride) used successively in Notre Dame University, IN, and Northwestern University, IL.  Those colleges and universities with Low-Rise buildings also need to meet with your fire departments and building departments with new State Law to discuss the benefits of retrofitting as over 82% of the fire deaths occur in a residential type of occupancy.   

      Until then, congratulations to the successful joint enterprise in Evanston, IL with the Wildcats of Northwestern and the Evanston Fire Department under Fire Marshal Alan Berkowsky and Chief Wilkenson.  Let us follow the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) America Burning Recommissioned Report where a community’s choice for fire protection should be fire sprinklers. 

Remember!!!  Stay out of an unsprinklered dorm to stay safe!  We do not want to hear later from the fire officials….” If this dormitory only had fire sprinklers, this death would not have occurred!!!”

Congratulations to North Central College in Naperville, Dominican University in River Forest and Elmhurst College in Elmhurst for pro-actively installing fire sprinklers in their dorms.


Get Out and Stay Alive is a program designed to help save your life in case you find yourself in a fire saturation. This program focuses on three main topics: Getting Out, Prevention, and Protection


Click Here For Stay Out And Stay Alive Program
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