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Fire Prevention

The Winnetka Fire Prevention Bureau oversees the fire-related inspectional services for all new and existing commercial and multi-family residential structures.

The Bureau’s services include:

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  • Annual inspection of all business, commercial and multi-family residential structures;
  • Plan reviews of newly constructed and remodeled structures;
  • System compliance inspection and testing of installed fire protection systems (fire alarms, sprinkler/standpipes, and hood/duct suppression systems);
  • Special event inspections for uses such as rummage sales, haunted houses, antique shows, etc.;
  • Code review and interpretation;
  • Citizen concerns/complaints related to public spaces;
  • And miscellaneous inspections for items such as carnival rides, firework displays, tents and hazardous material storage.

Home safety inspections can be requested and are performed by Fire Department personnel. Residential inspections for new construction and remodels are performed by the Community Development Department. If you have any questions or want to request a home safety inspection, please call the Fire Department at 847-501-6029 or email: Fire@winnetka.org.

Knox Boxes

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  • The Winnetka Village Code includes an emergency key access requirement. According to the 2009 International Fire Code (IFC) that the Village of Winnetka adopted in 2012, “Where access to or within a structure or an area is restricted because of secured openings or where immediate access is necessary for life-saving or fire-fighting purposes, the fire code official is authorized to require a key box to be installed in an approved location. The key box shall be of an approved type and shall contain keys to gain necessary access as required by the fire code official,” (IFC Chapter 5 Section 506.1).
  • Specifically, according to the Winnetka Village Code, “The owner of any building or structure that is not a single-family or two-family dwelling and that is protected by an automatic sprinkler system and/or and automatic fire detection system shall purchase, install and maintain an emergency key access system consisting of a locked box of a type and in a location prescribed by the Fire Chief,” (Section 8.04.010-D).
  • When a key box is required, we recommend a key box from the Knox Company (www.knoxbox.com).
  • The KNOX-BOX® Rapid Entry System was specifically developed for fire departments. With one master key, fire personnel gain access to commercial and residential property in case of an emergency event, such as a structural fire. More than 11,500 departments nationwide use Knox® key boxes, vaults, Haz-Mat cabinets, key switches, locking FDC caps, and padlocks. Brochures and order forms can be obtained from the Fire Department.

Fire Safety

The Fire Prevention Bureau provides up-to-date and relevant information to the community about potential fire hazards and best methods for prevention.

Smoke Alarms

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If you have battery operated smoke alarms in your home, this might be a good time to consider replacing them. If they are older than 10 years or have passed the manufacturer’s recommended life span, they should be replaced regardless. In either case, you might want to consider replacing your smoke alarms with newer technology. Today, you can purchase a dual-sensor smoke alarm that combines the ionization and photoelectric technology into one unit. These smoke alarms can be purchased for under $20 at a local home improvement center.

Smoke alarms are an inexpensive insurance policy you can purchase to protect yourself and your family. Make sure you test your alarm every month and always have fresh batteries that are changed every year. If you wait for the low battery indicator to begin chirping it could be too late; you might be on vacation and miss the warning resulting in a non-functioning device.

It is recommended to have a minimum of one alarm on each floor, one within 15 feet of all sleeping areas and one in each bedroom (bedroom smoke alarms are recommended because many people sleep with their bedroom doors closed preventing the alarm outside the room from activating). In past years, the problem was homes without smoke alarms. Today, the problem is homes with smoke alarms that do not work. Be sure to check that you have working smoke alarms.

The Winnetka Fire Department recommends interested residents visit the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board for further information on fire sprinklers at: www.firesprinklerassoc.org.

Burn Prevention

Fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 14. Each year, approximately 488 children ages 14 and under die in residential fires and another 116,600 are injured by fire- or burn-related incidents. Children ages 4 and under are at much higher risk for these injuries than adults.

Two out of three times when a child is injured or dies from a residential fire, a smoke alarm is not working or not present. Having a working smoke alarm is very important. It reduces the chance of dying in a fire by nearly half. That is why it is important to practice fire safety in the home and take all necessary precautionary steps to ensure the safety of your family.

Safety Away From Home

Not all fires occur at home. While a majority of fires do occur in the home, some of the largest and most devastating fires occur in places of public assembly such as hotels, theatres and nightclubs. These places can become dangerous for many reasons including overcrowding, blocked exits, flammable decorations, lack of sprinklers, and many more.

Some of the steps you can take to practice safety away from the home including

  • Refuse to sleep, eat or attend events in establishments and hotels that don't have fire sprinklers.
  • Always locate the nearest fire exits when you enter so you can quickly find your way out in an emergency.
  • Locate the nearest fire extinguisher and alarm pull station.
  • If the event is overcrowded, leave and contact the local fire department to report it.
  • Contact the fire department if you find locked or blocked fire exits or other fire code violations.
  • Quickly and calmly leave the building immediately in the event of an emergency.
  • Never use the elevator in a fire, it may stop and trap you on the floor where the fire is, always use the stairways.
  • If trapped by fire in a hotel or office, keep the door closed, stuff wet towels around door cracks and HVAC vents. Use the phone to contact 911 and report your location to the fire department.

Home Construction

Homes under construction have many hazards that can result in a fire. The causes of these fires include but are not limited to:

  • Poor housekeeping by the contractors.
  • The use of stains and varnishes that can spontaneously ignite if rags and materials are not disposed of properly.
  • Careless electrical wiring.
  • Unmonitored temporary heating units.
  • “Hot Works” – The use of various torches by tradesman without adequate protection for surrounding combustibles.

All construction sites should have fire extinguishers properly mounted in a conspicuous location for easy access. A safety inspection should be done daily to ensure hazards do not exist that can result in a fire or injury.

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