Evanston firefighters credited the existence of a sprinkling system and an audible alarm with possibly saving lives of Northwestern University students who lived at a multi-family residence on Emerson Street during a fire Monday evening.

The department responded to a report of a dryer fire at 711 Emerson St. at 9:08 p.m.

As the Engine 21 crew made its way down the second-floor smoke-filled hallway, according to Division Chief Paul Polep, it found the alarm sounding and the sprinkler head activated in the room in which the fire was located.

This kept the fire in check, he said, making it easier for the firemen to contain the blaze.

Nine Northwestern University students lived in the residence, he said, and five of them were home and were alerted to the fire.

Fire Chief Brian Scott said “the fire alarm and sprinkler system worked exactly as designed, saving both lives and property.”

Fire officials noted that when single-family residences are converted to a multi-family residence, city ordinance requires installation of an audible alarm and sprinkler protection system.

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Intelligent Regulations Save Lives and Money
    This is a great story and needs to be publicized more. Intelligent regulation saves lives AND money. I am sure there was plenty of belly aching and complaining when the sprinkler regulations were imposed. Just imagine what could have happened in this old wood frame structure without a sprinkler and integrated alarm system. We’ve seen what happens in these old wooden building fires far too often.

  2. Ditto
    DH, I couldn’t agree more. As a landlord myself I will admit that I would be more inclined to have only smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in my building if these regulations didn’t require more. Now I have fire extinguishers and a sprinkler system. It’s a cost of doing business that is well worth it when lives can be saved, as we see in this story.

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