Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward) joined Ald. Ray Suarez (31st Ward) and other Chicago aldermen yesterday in calling for City Council hearings into the tragic fire that swept through a Rogers Park apartment on Sept. 3rd, killing six children and injuring two others.
“The loss of six innocent lives shocked and saddened not only my community, but the entire world,” said Moore. “We need to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent such a horrific event from occurring again,” he added.
Preliminary findings indicate that the fire was caused by candles which the family had been using for light. Commonwealth Edison confirmed electric service to the family’s apartment residence was discontinued in May for nonpayment of the utility bill.
In addition, an initial Fire Department statement said fire fighters found no indication of smoke detectors in the apartment unit where the fire occurred, although the building owner said a September 2005 inspection of the apartment by the management company confirmed the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide detector equipment in the unit, and inspections following the fire revealed smoke detectors in the building’s other units.
Chicago’s building and fire codes require landlords to install working smoke detectors in every apartment dwelling unit, but leave it up to the tenant to monitor the smoke detectors, replace the batteries when necessary and inform the landlord when the detector is not functioning properly.
“We should thoroughly examine the city code, especially with respect to smoke detectors, to determine what, if any, additional regulations are needed,” said Moore. “We also need to look closely at the procedures for utility shut-offs. No family should be without essential utilities for such an extended period of time,” Moore added.
“This tragedy also raises issues pertaining to the difficulty of providing quality affordable housing, which also should be explored,” said Moore.
Moore and Suarez asked representatives from the Chicago Fire Department, Police Department, and the Office of Emergency Management Communications to attend the hearings. Representatives from the Chicago Department of Housing, Commonwealth Edison, the Chicago Association of Realtors, the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, the owner of the building and representatives from other Rogers Park community organizations will also be invited to attend.
Hearings will be held by the City Council Committee on Police and Fire at a future date.