ISU student starts petition for more fire safety in apartments

Local News

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — An Illinois State University graduate student is pushing for a stronger fire code at all student apartments within the town.

It all stems from a scare.

An online petition started by 22-year-old Claire Wagner calls for student apartment buildings in Normal with no sprinkler systems to provide fire extinguishers to its residents.

“I actually didn’t notice until I had a very close encounter with my roommate. Something flew a little bit too close to her light fixture, and it started sparking, and we thought, ‘Let’s go look for a fire extinguisher in case it starts escalating,'” Wagner said.

When they went to look for a fire extinguisher, they could not find one and grew concerned when they noticed no other way of putting it out within the apartment. Thankfully, she said, it didn’t grow.

“I think that it is incredibly important to have a working sprinkler system and if not that, at least a fire extinguisher,” Wagner said.

According to the town’s data, only 40% of its 900 multi-unit apartment buildings have a sprinkler system. But, the town director of inspections, Greg Troemel, said all of its buildings are meeting the code required based on the year it was built.

“The older the construction, the less cumbersome the code was back in the day,” Troemel said.

Troemel said his staff performs yearly safety inspections on all multifamily/multi-residential units and buildings. He said all the buildings offer at least a sufficient amount of protection from fires.

“There are a lot of other what I call passive systems; you know, fire-rated walls between dwelling units, draft stopping in attics, certainly smoke detection,” Troemel said.

Troemel said the Town is fortunate in that it does not have a lot of “stressed” or worn out buildings.

“If we see a property starting to show signs of wear and deterioration, we have a good relationship with the landlords and we stay on top of that kind of stuff,” Troemel said.

If you find yourself in an emergency fire situation, he says getting a fire extinguisher isn’t a bad thing, but the best thing to do is to evacuate the building and call 911.

Wagner’s petition has more than 500 signatures.

She said she has met with a council member to discuss changing the town’s code and regulations, but could still be a “few years” away from anything happening.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Local News

More Local News