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25 Feb 2020

Chicago Fire Commissioner Opposes New Smoke Detector Proposal for City’s Oldest Residential Buildings

Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun Times

A heated political battle is simmering behind-the-scenes over a proposal by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s City Council floor leader to require smoke detectors installed in Chicago’s oldest homes and residential buildings to either be hard-wired or have ten-year batteries in the detectors.

Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II and Public Safety Committee chairman Chris Taliaferro (29th) are dead-set against the idea — and sounded the alarm about it during a closed-door meeting Monday with Lightfoot’s Office of Legislative and Governmental Affairs.

“We’re adding a brand new price point for people who are already getting hit with tax increases and all of these other extra fees and costs. Are we just adding that much more of a financial burden on them to a program that is already working?” Taliaferro said.

“The fire commissioner is very concerned about the price point, as I am. Why is there a specific need to require a ten-year battery that’s costing a lot of money when we have residents that won’t be able to afford it?”

For years, the Chicago Fire Department has been educating residents and building owners about the need for working smoke detectors and distributing free smoke detectors.

The strategy has worked to reduce fire deaths “to almost single-digits,” Taliaferro said.

“I don’t want to see low-income communities impacted because that’s where we’ve seen a tremendous amount of success in reducing fire fatalities. I don’t want to see that trend turn around because now we’re requiring folks in low-income communities to have expensive smoke detectors,” Taliaferro said.

Read more at the Chicago Sun Times


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