Reporting Jim Williams
CHICAGO (CBS) – Scare tactics. That’s what some residents of Chicago high-rises are saying about a campaign to convince them to install fire sprinklers in their buildings.
CBS 2′s Jim Williams reports the group behind the campaign is supported by businesses that stand to benefit from the installation of sprinklers.
Gary Davis is president of a condo association on Sheridan Road.
Davis says his building is now in compliance with the city’s fire safety ordinance, but one group insists that’s not enough.
The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board — supported financially by unions and contractors — is paying for advertisements suggesting high-rise residents face danger without sprinklers.
Davis says the intent is to “scare people, keep them up, worry about being trapped in a fire.”
Still, nine years ago the Sprinkler Advisory Board did a persuasive demonstration for CBS 2, showing how effective sprinklers could be in squelching a room full of fire.
Many high-rise condo associations say they cannot afford special assessments to pay for the sprinklers.
“I think a lot of people that live in high-rises live paycheck to paycheck. Retirees do, and I think a lot of working people do, too,” Davis says.
Residents would each have to pay as much as $25,000 in special assessments, condo boards told CBS 2. The executive director of the Sprinkler Advisory board says the condo owners would likely get breaks in their insurance premiums.