November 5, 2014

City Council Approves Ordinance To Strengthen Law, Encourage Landlords To Install Smoke, Carbon Monoxide Detectors


November 5, 2014
Mayor’s Press Office



Mayor Emanuel and Aldermen Burke, Balcer and Solis approved today an important public safety
ordinance that repeals a dangerous post-citation compliance defense for residential landlords who
forego the installation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The approved ordinance
amends the building code for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to hold residential landlords
accountable by eliminating the defense.

“Earlier this month, four children tragically lost their lives in a residential fire in which there were
no working smoke detectors,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The law as written provides no incentive for
landlords to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their units, as they can comply after
they are ticketed to avoid a fine. There is no excuse for landlords who seek to avoid the minimal
cost and labor to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and this proposed ordinance will
strengthen the laws we have to enforce these important public safety provisions.”

The proposed ordinance specifically repeals post-citation compliance as an affirmative defense to
violations relating to smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

“In strengthening this law, the City will take a positive step in the right direction to ensure wider
compliance and better protect the public,” said Alderman Edward M. Burke, Chairman of the City
Council Committee on Finance.

“The Department of Buildings continuously looks for new ways to enhance life safety through the
enforcement of the building code. We are closing a dangerous loophole. The increased fines
strengthen enforcement and encourage residential building owners and landlords to comply with
the smoke and carbon monoxide detector requirements prior to receiving a violation or
immediately after, rather than waiting weeks or months,” said Felicia Davis, Commissioner for the
Chicago Department of Buildings.

In March of 2014, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released a study which analyzed
residential fire fatalities in the United States from 2007-2011. A full sixty percent (60%) of
residential fire fatalities from that time period were in residential properties with no smoke
detectors or with inoperable smoke detectors. Within the sixty percent, 1,540 represented senior,
adults and minors.


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