Creating Partnerships for Safer Commercial High-Rises

Chicago, IL – The Chicago Fire Commissioner has introduced the Chicago Fire Department’s new Life Safety Program for Commercial High-Rise Buildings, at a luncheon for nearly 300 members of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA/Chicago). The new Life Safety program focuses on educating high-rise occupants on safety guidelines in case of a fire emergency.

“We have a golden opportunity here – an opportunity to ensure that Chicago is the safest commercial high-rise city in the country.” Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter told BOMA members, at a luncheon held at the Fairmont Hotel. “While we all know that high-rise buildings are among the safest structures built, the issue of safety is all about familiarity and knowing what to do in case an emergency arises.”

Katie Scott, President of BOMA/Chicago, reiterated the importance of partnerships. “We enthusiastically support its value in teaching the people who work in our buildings how to react in an emergency* We are committed to maintaining the excellent record of high-rise buildings in Chicago.”

The Commissioner described the Life Safety Program for Commercial High-Rise Buildings as a citywide, consistent safety education message targeting high-rise building occupants. The new program consists of a new strategic approach and a newly crafted safety message communicated by an expanded team of public education trainers.

The new Life Safety program now has a team of five trainers charged with conducting seminars and fire drills. The new strategy will be dispersed throughout the city’s downtown commercial high-rise area into quadrants with one trainer designated per quadrant, enabling them to reach more than 450 buildings in 2005, more than a 400 percent increase in past outreach levels.

To ensure every building has one consistent message, the Chicago Fire Department developed an acronym centered on the word CALM. CALMS stands CALL, ALERT, LISTEN and MOVE — C-call 911, A-alert building management and security, L-listen for instructions and M-move to a safe area or evacuate if necessary.

The consistent message used in the seminar presentations is also part of the Fire Departments newly created, Chicago specific, Commercial High-Rise Fire Safety DVD. The DVDs are provided to building management after every seminar to be duplicated and shared with building occupants. The DVD can be downloaded onto a company’s Web page or if needed, occupants can also visit the Fire Department web page (www.cityofchicago.org) and download the DVD.

“Establishing and maintaining high-rise safety is an ongoing journey that will require trust, relationships and partnerships – we all know the longest journeys start with the first step.” Commissioner Trotter concluded.

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