A new state rule, mandated by the State Fire Marshall but requiring approval by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), would require every pre-1975 high rise apartment and condominium building including landmarked buildings to be retrofitted with sprinklers. Existing single-family homes where more than half the area is renovated would also be required to install sprinklers. Mid-rise residential buildings of 4 or more stories or 11 or more units would be required to install fire alarm systems with pull stations.

We have 45 days from June 28 (or until August 8) to lodge protests against this devastating charge on our association. The costs associated with this are ruinous. They will cause foreclosures and abandonment in the city. One local condo has run figures for retrofitting and they came up with $25 million, costing from $20k to $55k per unit depending upon size.

We have in good faith upgraded our building to comply with city-mandated Life Safety requirements, including our automatic elevator recall, hard-wired smoke detectors, fire alarm systems and the voice communication system we are installing this summer. This state mandate would override Chicago’s Home Rule and force us to comply. We must protest. We do have grounds for protesting. The rules must be both ‘necessary’ and ‘reasonable.’ We must galvanize all of our residents and owners to write. And write. And write. To members of the JCAR, to our legislators, to the governor. Form letters will not hold much sway. We must write our own, and we must help others write theirs.

Once we have the information, we will call a public meeting in the lobby. This is going to happen unless we make it not happen.

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