Excerpts from wgntv.com:

Some of the top authorities on firefighting and emergency care in the U.S. appeared in Chicago on Tuesday.

With more than 150 people already killed in fires in the U.S. this year — a rate on track to top 2023 fire deaths in the country — fire prevention safety measures were a big focus in a wide-ranging press conference at a firehouse in North Lawndale on the city’s Southwest Side  because it’s one of the busiest in the city.

Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt joined Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials and U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrrell on the Chicago leg of a three-city tour to promote FEMA’s #WinterReady Campaign.

Tuesday’s campaign stop was held at the firehouse .

They also called for better building standards and enforcement of existing fired codes, citing stats on deadly fires nationwide like the following:

  • 1.2 million structure fires were reported in 2023.
  • 2,300 people were killed in fires in 2023.
  • So far in 2024, 162 people have died in fires, 25 of them children under age 5.
  • So far this year, Chicago has only had one fire-related death. But last year that number was 30, the highest total in recent history.

Just over the Indiana border earlier this week, five children died in a fire in South Bend. Officials say that fires today are burning faster than ever before, giving people less time to escape.

“This is partially because of the synthetic materials used in our furnishings and interior and interior finishes today,” explained Steve Kerber, vice president and executive director of the Fire Safety Research Institute. “It’s possible that a fire starting in a bedroom or a living room with a small flame can lead to a full room of fire in less than three minutes.

“And the heat and smoke generated by that fire are going to spread to the adjacent room and hallways of the room that’s on fire, making those rooms unsurvivable very quickly.”

The #WinterReady Campaign moves from Chicago to Columbus, Ohio, for its next stop. Additionally, FEMA has a virtual #WinterReady Extreme Cold Summit scheduled for Friday at 12:30 p.m.