The Fire Prevention Bureau is a critical component of the Chicago Fire Department's effort to protect the citizens of Chicago against the loss of life and property through its enforcement of the Municipal Fire Codes. The Fire Prevention Bureau has four area offices: North, South, West and Central. These offices conduct general inspections of businesses, schools, hotels, public places of assembly, and high-rise occupancies within their geographic boundaries. Inspections are done on an annual basis to insure that each entity complies with all required fire codes.
The Fire Prevention Bureau also has the following specialty units:
The Court Section works with property owners and their agents to bring about compliance with the Municipal Code, utilizing Engineering Compliance Board, Administrative Adjudication and Circuit Court actions. They also conduct inspections of fire-damaged buildings, making recommendations for the Mayor’s Fast Track Demolition Program. They work closely with the city's Law Department on dangerous and hazardous properties to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.
Exit Signs / Fire Alarm Section
The Exit Sign/Fire Alarm Section is required to inspect all new and remodeled construction installations of exit signs and fire alarm systems. When a general inspector suspects irregularities with an exit sign or fire alarm installation, a member of the Exit Sign/Fire Alarm Unit will be sent out to ensure compliance with the Municipal Code.
Fire pumps utilized for standpipe and/or sprinkler systems are required by the Municipal Code to be tested annually. The Municipal Code requires this test to be performed by contractors from the private sector and witnessed by a member of the Fire Pump Section. The test is not valid unless witnessed and approved by the Fire Prevention Bureau.
Plan Review Section
Fire Prevention Engineers review plans for sprinkler systems that will be installed in new or remodeled construction. Emergency generator plans and above ground, flammable liquid storage tank plans are also reviewed. The engineers meet with contractors, developers or building owners to discuss changes or corrections to these plans. Pre-construction meetings are also held with developers, architects and building owners to discuss issues that are pertinent to fire safety.
New Construction Section
The New Construction Section monitors the construction or rehabilitation of buildings within the City of Chicago. These buildings, where required by Code, are monitored for proper fire safety at the construction sites. Work on sprinklers, standpipes and fire pumps are monitored to make sure that they are installed in accordance with plans and permits that have been approved by the Department of Construction and Permits and the Fire Prevention Bureau. This unit determines if the building has complied with all required fire safety procedures necessary for the building to obtain its certificate of occupancy.
The Institution Section inspects all institutions annually. In addition to the annual inspection, each institution is inspected monthly, utilizing a walk-through inspection format. This section's responsibilities include hospitals, correctional facilities, nursing homes, shelters, day care centers and after-school programs.
The School Section Inspectors annually inspect all schools in the City of Chicago. In addition to the annual inspection, each grammar school and high school receives a formal fire drill each month that school is in session. Fire drills for the grammar schools are conducted by the fire companies and fire drills for the high schools are conducted by a School Section Inspector. Colleges receive a monthly walk through inspection in lieu of a formal fire drill. Fire drills for colleges are random and performed at least twice a year.Hotel/SRO Section
The Hotel/SRO Section works out of the Central Area Office. This section inspects all hotels and Single Room Occupancies (S.R.O.) annually. They also perform monthly walk-through inspections of these facilities to make sure that fire safety procedures are in force.
Public Assembly Section
The Public Assembly Section reviews all floor plans for upcoming scheduled events that are held in large assembly halls such as McCormick Place, Navy Pier, and major hotels within the city. The inspector will make a walk through inspection prior to the event to insure that all fire safety procedures are in place. The inspector will also visit the assembly during the event to assure continued compliance with the Municipal Code.
Underground Storage Tank (UST) Section
The Underground Storage Tank Section is responsible for the inspections of all filling stations and the inspection of fuel storage and dispensing units within the City of Chicago. Other responsibilities include the monitoring of tank installations, tank removals, tank fillings, tank tests, Stage II installations, tank re-linings, tank leaks, tank-related complaints, tank registration checks and tank upgrades. U.S.T. Inspectors work in conjunction with the Chicago Department of Environment, Chicago's Water Reclamation District, the Illinois EPA, and the State Fire Marshal's Office and other agencies to insure the safe operation of underground storage tanks.
The Licensing Section conducts the testing and licensing of fire guards, desk clerks, fireworks technicians, fire extinguisher servicemen and High Rise Fire Safety Directors / Deputy Fire Safety Directors. This section also works with the Department of Revenue in the processing of license applications.
Weekend Detail Team
The Fire Prevention Weekend Detail Team conducts walk through inspections of late night public assembly occupancies. They visit night clubs and bars checking for overcrowding conditions and fire code violations. This detail works with the Chicago Police Department and the Liquor License Commission to ensure that these establishments maintain proper occupancy numbers.