Life Safety and High-Rise information

The City of Chicago’s High Rise Sprinkler and Life Safety Evaluation Ordinances better protect the lives of residents, employees and visitors by requiring enhanced safety features in the City’s pre-1975 high rise buildings. The Sprinkler Installation Ordinance (13-196-205) requires all pre-1975 commercial high rise buildings that are not landmarked to install a full sprinkler system by January 1, 2017.  This ordinance also exempts existing pre-1975 non-transient, residential high rise buildings from the requirement to fully sprinkler the building.  

The High Rise Life Safety Evaluation Ordinance (13-196-206) requires that the high-rise commercial buildings and residential buildings exempted from retro-fitting with sprinklers must undergo a rigorous evaluation of the building’s life and fire safety features from an Illinois Licensed Design Professional. The Design Professional must then submit a Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) Report to the Department of Buildings and the Chicago Fire Department for their review and approval.  This report will score the Building in 18 categories of Life and Fire Safety and must contain all certified life safety upgrades required for the building to obtain a passing score.  

Meeting the requirements of the Life Safety Evaluation Ordinance is a multi-step process:

  1. The Design Professional selected by building ownership must inspect and evaluate the subject Building and submit the LSE report to the Department of Buildings and the Fire Department.
  2. The Department of Buildings and the Fire Department must approve and accept the building’s Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) Report.
  3. By December 31, 2014, all construction required to comply with the individualized Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) report must be completed and verified through inspection by the Department of Buildings and the Chicago Fire Department.  Building permits must be obtained for the installation of any recommended upgrades to your building’s life safety structures or systems.  The Department of Buildings has created a streamlined permit process for LSE related construction work.

The Life Safety Evaluation Ordinance works in conjunction with 2 other Ordinances designed to promote high rise life safety:
13-196-204 Voice Communications Systems in Existing Buildings – Which requires the installation of one and two way voice communication systems for all existing high rise buildings by December 31, 2014.
13-196-209 High Rise Buildings Stairs and Frames – Which requires stairways in existing residential high rise buildings to be protected with a one hour fire rated doors frames and enclosures by December 31, 2014.