WBEZ | safety http://www.wbez.org/tags/safety Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Will Obama's Action Create a Market for 'Smart' Guns? http://www.wbez.org/news/will-obamas-action-create-market-smart-guns-114399 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gunss.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Andy Raymond demonstrates the Armatix iP1, a .22-caliber smart gun that has a safety interlock, at Engage Armaments in Rockville, Md., last year. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post/Getty Images)" /></div><p>The notion of a gun smart enough to tell who&#39;s holding it isn&#39;t new.</p><p>Since the 1990s, inventors have been developing firearms geared with technologies that can authenticate their users &mdash; for instance by recognizing the fingerprint, the grip or an RFID chip &mdash; and stop working if held by the wrong hands.</p><p>Several manufacturers have tried to introduce Americans to the concept, but the market here has been&nbsp;<a href="http://fortune.com/2015/04/22/smart-guns-theyre-ready-are-we/" target="_blank">less than friendly</a>&nbsp;over concerns that they are unreliable and would lead to more gun control.</p><p>Supporters now hope that President Obama&#39;s new executive actions could turn things around.</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/05/462020685/obama-seeks-commonsense-gun-control-through-executive-actions" target="_blank">series of measures aimed at reducing gun violence</a>, Obama directed the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to &quot;conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms, and improve the tracing of lost or stolen guns.&quot;</p><p>In an address at the White House on Tuesday, Obama added: &quot;If we can set it up so you can&#39;t unlock your phone unless you&#39;ve got the right fingerprint, why can&#39;t we do the same thing for our guns? If there&#39;s an app that can help us find a missing tablet ... there&#39;s no reason we can&#39;t do it with a stolen gun. If a child can&#39;t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure that they can&#39;t pull a trigger on a gun.&quot;</p><p>But to Stephen Teret, longtime proponent of smarter guns and founder of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/" target="_blank">Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research</a>, this could be the key element: Obama also directs the agencies to &quot;explore potential ways to further&quot; the use and development of smart gun technology as well as consult with other agencies that buy firearms to see if smart guns could be considered for acquisition and &quot;consistent with operational needs.&quot;</p><div id="res462035317"><iframe height="555" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?embed=true&amp;id=2673821-2016smartgun-Mem-Rel" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="100%"></iframe></div><p>Teret says smart, or personalized, guns have faced a stalemated kind of supply-demand: Manufacturers best-positioned to make and market these new guns don&#39;t want to go all-in on the idea without a reassurance of big orders, while no big buyer would put in such an order for an unestablished technology.</p><p>In simplest terms, if federal law enforcement and the military start buying lots of smart guns &mdash; and that&#39;s a big if &mdash; Teret thinks it would be just the incentive that manufacturers, venture capitalists and other investors need to consider such guns as a viable product.</p><p>&quot;What today represents is blowing up the logjam that has been keeping us from moving forward,&quot; Teret says.</p><p>The impasse has a long history. A&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/242500.pdf" target="_blank">2013 report from the Justice Department</a>, solicited earlier by Obama, listed numerous corporate and research projects in the U.S., Europe and Australia that tried to develop smarter gun technology, including from established gun-makers like Colt&#39;s Manufacturing and Smith &amp; Wesson.</p><p>Many of the projects fizzled out, facing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/03/18/174629446/can-smart-gun-technology-help-prevent-violence" target="_blank">numerous reservations</a>&nbsp;both from gun proponents and from opponents.</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Will It Make Us Safer?</strong></span></p><p>One of the biggest concerns from law enforcement officers cited by that 2013 DOJ report was reliability &mdash; the concern that a battery-powered or computer-chip-driven gun wouldn&#39;t fire when it should.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nssfblog.com/nssf-statement-regarding-executive-actions-to-reduce-gun-violence-and-make-our-communities-safer/" target="_blank">National Shooting Sports Foundation</a>, the main firearms industry trade association, in a statement, says it has never opposed development of smart gun technology. &quot;How additional government research into this technology would advance it is unclear,&quot; the group says.</p><p>And the industry&#39;s big worry is that support for smart gun technology would turn into a mandate that all guns need to be smart.</p><p>In fact, New Jersey&#39;s 2002 &quot;Childproof Handgun Law&quot;&nbsp;has spurred much of the outcry over&nbsp;attempts to sell smart guns in the U.S., because it said that once &quot;personalized handguns are available&quot; anywhere in the country, all handguns sold in New Jersey must be smart guns within 30 months.&quot;</p><p>The National Shooting Sports Foundation also says there are &quot;well-proven existing methods to secure firearms&quot; and that firearm accidents are at an all-time low.</p><div id="res462061142">The National Rifle Association, in its statement criticizing Obama&#39;s executive actions, didn&#39;t comment on smart guns specifically but generally argued that the presidential action would not have prevented recent mass shootings.</div><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vpc.org/" target="_blank">Violence Policy Center</a>, which advocates for gun control, also has no specific position on personalized guns but has argued that research dollars would be better spent on things that prevent gun violence, like better injury and death measurements, youth programs and public education about risks.</p><p>Spokesman Avery Palmer referred NPR to the group&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/Smart%20Gun%202013.pdf" target="_blank">2013 fact sheet</a>&nbsp;on smart guns, which runs through a variety of reservations about their effectiveness, including the possibility that it may attract more, not fewer, people to gun ownership.</p><p>The fact sheet also says the group opposes the use of any federal tax dollars in support of smart gun research. Asked whether that meant the group also opposed Obama&#39;s smart gun initiative, Palmer said the center didn&#39;t yet have enough detail on the proposal to determine the group&#39;s position.</p><p>Teret at Johns Hopkins says that firearm accidents have indeed been declining and smart guns aren&#39;t a panacea to gun violence. He compares his current advocacy to his earlier work to get air bags installed in cars, despite concerns about their risk and effectiveness.</p><p>&quot;No one can tell you with any level of certainty how many of the 33,000-plus [annual] gun deaths will be avoided by personalized guns,&quot; he says. &quot;But I certainly have absolute confidence that it will be enough deaths that will be avoided that makes this worth it.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://alltechconsidered" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 23:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/will-obamas-action-create-market-smart-guns-114399 Los Angeles Schools Closed after Safety Threat http://www.wbez.org/news/los-angeles-schools-closed-after-safety-threat-114170 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/GettyImages-83214846.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&quot;I think it is important that I take the precaution based on what has happened recently, and what has happened in the past,&quot; said&nbsp;LAUSD Superintendent&nbsp;Ramon Cortines in a press conference Tuesday morning.</p><p>He was speaking of his decision to shut down all schools in the&nbsp;Los Angeles Unified School District in&nbsp;response to a safety threat &mdash; outlets including the&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-all-lausd-schools-closed-threat-20151215-story.html" target="_blank">Los Angeles Times</a>&nbsp;</em>are reporting it as a bomb threat.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I have alerted all six superintendents ... I&#39;ve asked them to have their operations people talk to the plant managers at each school. I&#39;ve asked the plant managers to lock the school, and if they see anything that is out of order to contact the police, not to touch anything, not to do anything. But if they see anything out of line, to contact the proper authorities,&quot; continued Cortines. He also spoke of concerns over students who walk to school, and ensuring that they also returned home safely.</p><p dir="ltr">About 640,000 students are affected by the school closures.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/15/los-angeles-school-district-sends-all-students-home-cause-not-yet-clear-knbc.html" target="_blank">CNBC</a>&nbsp;reports Los Angeles has&nbsp;the second largest school district in the nation, with over 900 schools and 187 public charter schools.</p><p>LAUSD President Steve K. Zimmer asked for understanding from employers considering that many parents will be affected by the school shut down:&nbsp;&quot;We ask you to show the maximum possible flexibility with your employees who are primarily mothers, fathers and guardians today in this situation.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/2015/12/15/education/los-angeles-schools-closed-after-threat" target="_blank"><em>via Marketplace</em></a></p></p> Tue, 15 Dec 2015 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/los-angeles-schools-closed-after-safety-threat-114170 How To Prepare For Active Shooters in Schools and Workplaces http://www.wbez.org/news/how-prepare-active-shooters-schools-and-workplaces-114042 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1203_active-shooter-training.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_97141"><img alt="Participants barricade a door of a classroom to block an &quot;active shooter&quot; during ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) training at the Harry S Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania, on November 3, 2015. ALICE is designed to educate local and school-based law enforcement, as well as administrators, teachers and others about the research-based, proactive response approach to violent Intruder events. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/12/1203_active-shooter-training-624x415.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Participants barricade a door of a classroom to block an “active shooter” during ALICE training at the Harry S Truman High School in Levittown, Pennsylvania, on November 3, 2015. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)" /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The mass shooting yesterday in San Bernardino, California turned our attention, again, to issues of public safety, causing many of us wonder what we would do if confronted by an active shooter at school, work or in a movie theater.</p></div><p>Lieutenant&nbsp;Joe&nbsp;Hendry&nbsp;is with the Kent State Police Department in Ohio, and is an intelligence liaison officer with Ohio Homeland Security. He&rsquo;s also a national instructor with the ALICE (which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training Institute.</p><p>The institute trains personnel in schools and workplaces to plan for active shooter situations.</p><p>He joins&nbsp;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/12/03/active-shooter-situation-what-to-do" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now&#39;s&nbsp;</em></a>Jeremy Hobson to discuss the ALICE program, as well as how individuals can protect themselves and their colleagues when there is no official plan in place.</p></p> Thu, 03 Dec 2015 14:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-prepare-active-shooters-schools-and-workplaces-114042 Why isn't the U.S. adopting this subway car design? http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-15/why-isnt-us-adopting-subway-car-design-113357 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1014_open-gangways-624x428.jpg" title="Toronto has been using “open gangway” trains since 2011. (Sean_Marshall/Flickr)" /></div><p>Around the world, many major cities trying to improve public transit have adopted city rail lines that use open gangways.</p><p>Instead of multiple cars strung together, an open gangway is one long car, allowing passengers to walk the full length of the train without getting out.&nbsp;The design is believed to increase rider capacity of trains and even make late-night riding safer.</p><p>But while open gangways are common in Europe and Asia, the United States has long avoided adoption.&nbsp;Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s Jeremy Hobson speaks with <a href="http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2015/04/06/when-american-transit-agencies-ignore-the-worlds-move-to-open-gangways/" target="_blank">Chicago city planner&nbsp;Yonah Freemark</a>&nbsp;for his take on why.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/14/open-gangways-subway-design" target="_blank"><em> via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Wed, 14 Oct 2015 13:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-15/why-isnt-us-adopting-subway-car-design-113357 FAA proposes nearly $2 million fine against drone operator http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-proposes-nearly-2-million-fine-against-drone-operator-113193 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_335843507976.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; The government is proposing a record $1.9 million fine against an aerial photography company for flying drones in crowded New York and&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;airspace without permission.</p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration says SkyPan International Inc. of&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;operated 65 unauthorized flights between March 2012 and December 2014 in some of the nation&#39;s most congested airspace.</p><p>More than half the flights took place in heavily restricted areas of New York airspace without air traffic control clearance. Also, the drones weren&#39;t equipped with two-way radio, transponder and altitude reporting equipment required of manned aircraft.</p><p>SkyPan has 30 days to respond to the FAA.</p><p>The fine announcement comes one day before an FAA official is expected to be face tough questioning at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on safety hazards created by drones.</p><p>&mdash; <em>via The Associated Press</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 09:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-proposes-nearly-2-million-fine-against-drone-operator-113193 Discussion builds around adding more netting to keep baseball fans safe http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-26/discussion-builds-around-adding-more-netting-keep-baseball-fans <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/baseball fans ttarasiuk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Each baseball season, more than 1,700 fans get hit with balls and shattered bats at Major League parks. In June, a woman sustained life-threatening injuries in Boston. This past Sunday at Wrigley Field, a woman was stretchered off and sent to the hospital. Last Friday, a woman in Detroit was seriously injured by a foul ball, prompting Tigers star Justin Verlander to tweet about the need for additional safety measures. Some believe additional measures aren&rsquo;t necessary. Major League Baseball says it&rsquo;s looking into the matter. Veteran Chicago baseball analyst Bruce Levine from 670 The Score joins us to talk about the many sides to the story.</p></p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-26/discussion-builds-around-adding-more-netting-keep-baseball-fans Chicago's 1995 heat wave took the lives of the city's most vulnerable http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/chicagos-1995-heat-wave-took-lives-citys-most-vulnerable-112402 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/heat wave luis hernandez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215005305&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">The Chicago heat wave of 1995 wasn&#39;t indiscriminate. It took the lives of the city&#39;s most vulnerable: the elderly, the infirm, the forgotten shut-ins...the people who had fallen through the cracks. It wasn&#39;t just the heat that killed. It was the heat, magnified by social circumstance, physical geography and institutional response. All this week, we&#39;ve been revisiting those scorching days, and dissecting the city&#39;s response. Today, we talk about caring for those who were closest to the danger. For many, looking after the elderly falls on family members and neighbors. But what if you can&#39;t count on that? We speak with Joyce Gallagher, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging, part of the Department of Family and Support Services.</span></p></p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/chicagos-1995-heat-wave-took-lives-citys-most-vulnerable-112402 Chicago's red "X": Meaning, myths and limitations http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-red-x-meaning-myths-and-limitations-110315 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/153918243&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: We have an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-quietly-phasing-out-red-x-program-110924" target="_blank">update to this story</a>, which expands on the red &quot;X&quot; program&#39;s lack of funding.</em></p><p>While walking around her Logan Square neighborhood Chicagoan Poppy Coleman noticed something peculiar about two rundown buildings: They bore metal signs emblazoned with a large red &quot;X.&quot;</p><p>Poppy says she wanted to know more, including: &ldquo;Who they were for, maybe what department put them up, and if it was something that I should know about.&rdquo; So, she sent Curious City this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What do those red &quot;X&quot; signs mean on buildings?</em></p><p>She&rsquo;s not the only one who&rsquo;s confused. Since 2012, red &quot;X&quot; signs have popped up on nearly 2,000 properties around Chicago. It&rsquo;s not hard to find <a href="http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/Are_the_red_X_buildings_for_sale_-613697" target="_blank">people posting in online forums</a>, wondering aloud whether the red &quot;X&quot; means a building&rsquo;s condemned, vacant or for sale.</p><p>But in the course of reporting an answer for Poppy, we encountered hard questions about the program that supports red &ldquo;X&rdquo; signage, including whether the city&rsquo;s doing enough to communicate its intentions. We also turned up some surprising news: This program, meant to save the lives of first responders and others, has <a href="#money">run out of money</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The sign&rsquo;s origins: A mayday call</span></p><p>On Dec. 22, 2010, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCPw1aiQDO8" target="_blank">firefighters were searching for squatters inside a burning, long-vacant laundromat </a>on the 1700 block of East 75th Street, in Chicago&rsquo;s South Shore neighborhood. As firefighters continued their sweep of the building, a wall fell and then the roof collapsed, killing firefighters Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum. Nineteen others were injured.</p><p>&ldquo;When I first became alderman, one of the first visits that I paid was to Fire Chief Mark Neilsen,&rdquo; said 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored two city ordinances in response. The first ordinance, passed in 2011, required the department to catalogue buildings with bowstring truss construction, a <a href="http://www.firefighternation.com/article/firefighter-safety/bowstring-truss-roof-construction-hazards" target="_blank">variety that&rsquo;s prone to collapse during fires</a>.</p><p>Silverstein&rsquo;s second ordinance sought to find and mark all of Chicago&rsquo;s dangerous buildings. For that program they decided on rectangular metal signs displaying a big red &quot;X&quot;, a symbol used by fire departments in New York City and other some other cities. <a href="http://dart.arc.nasa.gov/Recon/BUILDI~1Rev1.pdf" target="_blank">That iconography comes from a federal program for marking vacant structures</a>.</p><p>Chicago doesn&rsquo;t assign red &quot;X&quot; signs to just any vacant or abandoned building; a sign is a visual cue that a structure is structurally unsound and that firefighters and other first responders should take precautions when responding to emergencies there. It&rsquo;s also an extra reminder for anyone who might wander into a vacant building &mdash; which is illegal already &mdash; that they should stay out.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Making a list</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trip.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: right; height: 700px;" title="All three vacant buildings are marked with the red X, but display varying levels of disrepair. No signage indicates dangerous, structural disrepair. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee - Kathy Chaney)" /></p><p>Since Silverstein&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagocouncilmatic.org/legislation/1135934" target="_blank">ordinance</a> passed in June 2012, the Chicago Fire Department has placed red &quot;X&quot; signs on 1,804 buildings. That&rsquo;s less than half of the more than 5,000 vacant properties registered in the city &mdash; itself a fraction of the estimated total of <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bldgs/dataset/vacant_and_abandonedbuildingsservicerequests.html" target="_blank">vacant and abandoned buildings in Chicago</a> &mdash; but CFD Spokesman Larry Langford says it&rsquo;s a start.</p><p>&ldquo;We picked 1,800 that we wanted to get marked right away,&rdquo; he says. When the program started, Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Buildings sent over a list of structurally unsound properties for CFD to add to as they saw fit. The list from the Department of Buildings included a few hundred properties deemed more than 35 percent deteriorated.</p><p>Langford says &ldquo;It&rsquo;s based on structural damage rotting in some cases, vandalism, previous fire, the overall integrity of the building, what&rsquo;s missing from the building, if there are holes in the floor, porch in bad condition, roof about to go &mdash; things that might make it difficult for a fireman to work the fire, or for the building to come down quickly during a fire.&rdquo;</p><p>That list quickly grew to 1,800. Firemen took note of vacant buildings as they did their rounds, checking out potentially unsafe structures and adding to the initial list of red &quot;X&quot; candidates.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;They&rsquo;re everywhere&rsquo;</span></p><p>Records obtained by WBEZ show the city often put up dozens of signs at a time in parts of the city with a lot of vacant and structurally unsound buildings.</p><p>Poppy Coleman joined Curious City Editor Shawn Allee and reporter Chris Bentley for a short canvas of the South Side&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood, which has hundreds of buildings sporting the signs.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/redx/embed.html#/?address=7000%20S%20Normal%20Ave%2C%20Chicago%2C%20IL%2C%20United%20States&amp;radius=805interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/redx/embed.html" width="620"></iframe></p><blockquote><p><em>(Curious City canvassed portions of the Englewood neighborhood near the intersection of 70th and Normal. There are 55 red &quot;X&quot; signs posted within a half-mile of the intersection. Map: <a href="http://wbez.is/1hMvplH" target="_blank">See the signs across the city and search by address</a>)</em></p></blockquote><p>Most of the residents we talked to around the intersection of 70th and South Normal Avenue described waking up to find several houses on their block marked with red &quot;X&quot; signs. The signs never go unnoticed, but neighbors are often confused about what they mean.</p><p>&ldquo;For some reason the red &lsquo;X&rsquo; became something totally different than what we intended it to be,&rdquo; said Langford. &rdquo;I thought they were kidding me when they said it, but some people thought that those were the buildings that were being targeted by the drones when the next war started, and that the red &lsquo;X&rsquo; is a drone target.&rdquo;</p><p>The department has largely left it up to aldermen and their offices to publicize the signs&rsquo; purpose. Langford says people have called to ask the fire department if red &ldquo;X&rdquo; buildings are part of a program by the city to sell distressed property at a discount, or to pillory property owners whose taxes are in arrears.</p><p>&ldquo;It has nothing to do with ownership, it&rsquo;s not a part of any kind of program to do anything with the buildings. For the most part they&rsquo;re privately owned,&rdquo; Langford says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a marking for danger. It&rsquo;s really just that simple.&rdquo;</p><p>Simple, perhaps, but there&rsquo;s a lot of confusion in areas where red &quot;X&quot;s are common. If these signs are here to save lives &mdash; both those of firefighters and anyone who might think of trespassing on potentially dangerous abandoned properties &mdash; is everyone on the same page?</p><p>There are several red &quot;X&quot; buildings on the 6900 block of S. Normal, where Maria Johnson lives. But her next door neighbor is an abandoned building that doesn&rsquo;t have a red &quot;X&quot;. She says just because a building&rsquo;s deemed vacant doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s unoccupied.</p><p>&ldquo;Homeless people, people with nowhere to stay,&rdquo; said Johnson, who has lived on this block for three years. &ldquo;I know they went into the &nbsp;building next to me and someone set it on fire, it caught onto my crib. So I don&rsquo;t know if they were living in there, or getting high, or whatever, but I know there were some homeless people going through the back door.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s no signage explaining the red &quot;X&quot; &mdash; just the &ldquo;X&rdquo; itself &mdash; so if you want answers, you have to find them yourself. Most of the people we asked in Englewood thought the red &ldquo;X&rdquo; marked buildings for demolition. Earl Liggins was one of the few people who knew what the signs&rsquo; real meaning, but that&rsquo;s only because he took matters into his own hands.</p><p>&ldquo;I called the alderman&rsquo;s office and I heard it from the alderman people themselves,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I was just concerned because there are so many of them. I was just wondering what does it mean, are they going to tear this many buildings down? I just wanted to know straight from them, what the situation was.&rdquo;</p><p>Liggins lives in a formerly vacant building on the 7000 block of S. Normal that he fixed up a few years ago. But he says whether they have a red &quot;X&quot; or not, most vacant buildings in his neighborhood stay that way.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-3.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Earl Liggins, right, lives in a formerly vacant building on the 7000 block of S. Normal. Fifty-five red ‘X’ buildings lie within half a mile. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee) " /></p><p>&ldquo;For the most part they stay vacant forever,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The condition of the building gets worse and worse. That building across the street &mdash; I&rsquo;ve been here 10 years and that building has been vacant for about ten years.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Removing the red &lsquo;X&rsquo;</span></p><p>There is a process to rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties, but the city requires owners to obtain special permission before performing work on red x structures. Two years after the program began, however, <a href="https://www.chicagoreporter.com/reclaiming-avenue" target="_blank">only one building has successfully been repaired and had its red &quot;X&quot; legally removed</a>.</p><p>The next red &quot;X&quot; property to move off the list might be one of the buildings that originally sparked question asker Poppy Coleman&rsquo;s curiosity: 2800 W. Logan Blvd. A fire ravaged the three-story building last summer, but owner Darko Tesanovic <a href="http://webapps.cityofchicago.org/buildingpermit/search/extendedapplicationstatus.htm?permitNumber=100480840" target="_blank">got a city permit</a> earlier this year to repair the damages and turn a ground-floor dwelling unit into retail space. If he finishes the repairs, Tesanovic could be only the second landlord in Chicago to legally remove a red &quot;X&quot; from his building. In the meantime he says the X isn&rsquo;t impeding his redevelopment efforts, but it might be adding to neighborhood anxieties about the vacant property.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not bothered by it,&rdquo; Tesanovic says. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s creating more confusion for the neighborhood than myself, because people in the neighborhood don&rsquo;t know what it means.&rdquo;</p><p>Our question asker was glad to learn what the red &quot;X&quot; means, but she still wonders about its impact. Many of the <a href="http://wbez.is/1hMvplH" target="_blank">neighborhoods with high concentrations of red &quot;X&quot; signs</a> are already reeling from a downward spiral of disinvestment, blight and declining property values. She&rsquo;s worried red &quot;X&quot;s are like scarlet letters &mdash; just another obstacle in a rough neighborhood&rsquo;s struggle to improve its station.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-4.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Chicagoan Poppy Coleman, left, asked Curious City about the meaning behind more than 1,800 red ‘X’ signs posted on buildings across Chicago. (WBEZ/Curious City) " /></p><p>&ldquo;My disappointment is that once the &lsquo;X&rsquo; is up, it doesn&rsquo;t sound like there&rsquo;s any support to help move that building to a next phase, either to get it sold, get it taken care of, get it torn down,&rdquo; Coleman says in the shade beside a boarded-up red &quot;X&quot; building on the 7000 block of South Eggleston Avenue. &ldquo;Putting the &lsquo;X&rsquo; on it seems to be where the program stops.&rdquo;</p><p>Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored the original red &quot;X&quot; ordinance, says she&rsquo;d be open to the city forming a task force charged with helping city agencies work together to resuscitate ailing properties after the fire department marks them.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not aware of any talk about the different departments working together specifically on the red &quot;X&quot;, but I highly encourage that,&rdquo; Silverstein says. &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re all better off if all the different departments work together and form a task force to solve some of these issues. That&rsquo;s really important to get things taken care of.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="money"></a>Out of money</span></p><p>While in Englewood, we ask the CFD&#39;s Larry Langford whether it makes sense to let the public know more about the meaning behind the &quot;X&quot; &mdash;maybe by putting up a smaller, less permanent sign explaining it&#39;s dangerous to enter such buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;If we expand the program, that&rsquo;s a suggestion that will be made,&quot; he says. &quot;It might cut some of the confusion down. Put a permanent sign up, put an adhesive sign up &mdash; could be.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Whether they&rsquo;ll get a chance to do that is an open question, because this program that was meant to save lives has run out of money. The city received $675,000 from <a href="http://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program" target="_blank">the Federal Emergency Management Agency&rsquo;s Assistance to Firefighters grant program</a> to fund the red &quot;X&quot; program. Most of that federal grant money went to two local contractors: AGAE Contractors and M-K Signs.</p><p>Data obtained by WBEZ show the city spent all of that money over thirteen months starting in June of 2012, and <a href="http://wbez.is/1uNLXMp" target="_blank">hasn&rsquo;t put up any new red &quot;X&quot; signs since July 2013</a>.</p><p>Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored the original red &ldquo;X&rdquo; ordinance, says she&rsquo;s eager to find more money for the program. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office did not return requests for comment. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We wish it would be funded for a longer period of time, but yes we think it was a success,&rdquo; says the CFD&rsquo;s Larry Langford. &ldquo;Are there more than 1,800 that could be marked? Absolutely. But we&rsquo;re not doing anything until we get more funding.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for Curious City and a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/shawnallee" target="_blank">Shawn Allee</a> is Curious City&#39;s editor. <a href="https://twitter.com/chrishagan" target="_blank">Chris Hagan</a> is a WBEZ web producer and data expert, and&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/kathychaney" target="_blank">Kathy Chaney</a>&nbsp;is a WBEZ producer.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-red-x-meaning-myths-and-limitations-110315 Blue Line train derails, climbs escalator at O'Hare http://www.wbez.org/news/blue-line-train-derails-climbs-escalator-ohare-109909 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP661422106797(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Last updated March 25, 4 p.m.</em></p><p>An emergency track-side braking system activated but failed to stop a Chicago commuter train from jumping the tracks and barreling to the top of an escalator at O&#39;Hare International Airport, a federal investigator said Tuesday.</p><p>The events that led to Monday&#39;s accident, which occurred around 3 a.m. and injured more than 30 passengers, might have begun with the train operator dozing off toward the end of her shift, according the union representing transit workers. But Tuesday&#39;s announcement that a piece of emergency safety equipment might have failed was the first indication the accident could have been caused by human error and mechanical failure.</p><p>National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said a preliminary review showed the train was traveling at the correct speed of 25 mph as it entered the station. Investigators said they have not yet determined whether the operator ever applied the in-cab brake.</p><p>Turpin, who is in charge of the investigation, said an automatic emergency braking system located on the tracks was activated but failed to stop the train as it burst onto the platform.</p><p>&quot;It activated,&quot; Turpin said of the emergency system. &quot;That&#39;s all we know factually. Now, whether it did it in time or not, that&#39;s an analysis that we have to figure out.&quot;</p><p>A team from the NTSB was also exploring how rested the train operator was before starting her shift and whether rules governing overtime had been violated, after a union official suggested she might have dozed off.</p><p>They planned to interview the train operator Tuesday afternoon.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re going to ask probably the operator how they felt ... because we always take into consideration the fatigue factor. It&#39;s one of the things we do investigate,&quot; Turpin said.</p><p>The operator, whom officials have not identified, was off duty for about 17 hours before starting work around 8 p.m. Sunday but had recently put in a lot of overtime, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly said Monday.</p><p>&quot;I know she works a lot &mdash; as a lot of our members do,&quot; he said. &quot;They gotta earn a living. ... She was extremely tired.&quot;</p><p>Kelly said the operator took standard drug and alcohol tests after the derailment and that she assured him they were not an issue.</p><p>Asked whether she may have nodded off, Kelly responded: &quot;The indication is there. Yes.&quot;</p><p>Federal investigators hoped to turn the scene over to local officials later Tuesday to begin removing the train from the escalator at the underground Chicago Transit Authority station.</p><p>The train is designed to stop if operators become incapacitated and their hand slips off the spring-loaded controls. Kelly speculated that, upon impact, inertia might have thrown the operator against the hand switch, accelerating it onto the escalator.</p><p>Transit officials refused to discuss what other safety mechanisms are in place around the transit system while the investigation was ongoing.</p><p>Federal safety regulators keep a close watch on longer distance, city-to-city passenger rail and freight operations. But federal safety oversight of transit systems within cities has been weaker, and responsibility for any technology to prevent crashes and control speeds has been left to local authorities.</p><p>There are efforts to grant a safety oversight role to the Federal Transit Administration, which has primarily been a funding agency, said Sean Jeans-Gail, vice president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, a Washington-based advocacy group.</p><p>In the meantime, local transit agencies like Chicago&#39;s make their own choices about how to spend scarce funding, juggling the needs of safely maintaining systems that are a century old in some places with pressure to expand systems to meet demand.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s always going to be a tension, but it&#39;s a tension that becomes more pronounced when there&#39;s not a healthy level of investment in both maintenance and ... capacity expansion,&quot; Jeans-Gail said.</p><p>Investigators have also been scrutinizing the train&#39;s brakes, track signals and other potential factors while reviewing video footage from more than 40 cameras in the station and on the train, Turpin said.</p><p>The station remained closed Tuesday, and CTA buses took passengers to and from O&#39;Hare to the next station on the line. Transport officials have not said when full Blue Line service will resume at O&#39;Hare.</p></p> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 09:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/blue-line-train-derails-climbs-escalator-ohare-109909 Chicago's flammable 'fire escapes' http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20TOPPER.jpg" title="One version of Chicago's ubiquitous wooden back porch. (Flickr/corydalus)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/122003293" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast episode above is one of two audio stories related to this topic. A shorter, excerpted version is paired with our <a href="http://wbez.is/VFsYaf" target="_blank">story on the history of a structure that frequently has wooden porches: the Chicago two-flat</a>. &nbsp;</em></p><p>If the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 taught the city one thing, it&rsquo;s that wood does not stand up to flames. This fact did not escape notice of Manhattanite-turned-Chicagoan Lee Kuhn, who moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood to attend the University of Chicago. He settled into a three-flat building which &mdash; like untold numbers of similar buildings across the city &mdash; had a wooden back porch.</p><p>At first glance, Lee said, the wooden structure&rsquo;s use as a fire escape seemed illogical: &ldquo;If this is a fire escape and it&rsquo;s made out of wood &mdash; what&rsquo;s going on here?&rdquo;</p><p>So Lee turned to Curious City with this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What is the origin of Chicago&#39;s distinctive wooden fire escapes? Are they actually effective during fires?</em><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCHES GROUP SHOT.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 260px; float: right;" title="The University of Chicago group who helped research this story. From left to right: Jonathan Katz, Lee Kuhn, Maura Connors, and Hannah Loftus. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p>As part of a special collaboration with a University of Chicago course called &ldquo;Buildings as Evidence,&rdquo; Lee and fellow classmates Jonathan Katz, Maura Connors, and Hannah Loftus helped Curious City find answers. Along the way, we learned how economics sometimes overrules logic, and there&rsquo;s a bit of irony here, too: While not technically &quot;fire escapes,&quot; these wooden porches are meant to keep residents safer from fire.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>More than one way out</strong></div><p>For more than a century, Chicago&rsquo;s building code has demanded two means of egress (i.e., multiple exits) on typical two- and three-flat buildings, a fact that City of Chicago regulation and code reviewer Bob Fahlstrom confirmed after looking through the city&rsquo;s code library. He said as early as 1906 (the farthest back he could view), the building code stated that every two or three-flat apartment (also called &ldquo;tenements&rdquo; at that time) required either a fire escape or two separate stairs: one staircase located at the front of the building and another at the back.</p><p>Building code regulations were still new in the early 1900s, but Chicago did have the <a href="http://www.greatchicagofire.org/" target="_blank">Great Chicago Fire</a> under its belt as well as the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-iroquoisfire-story,0,6395565.story" target="_blank">Iroquois Theater fire</a>. And as the now ubiquitous short apartment buildings and homes that carpet most Chicago neighborhoods were being built in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, the two-exit requirement seemed a regulation born out of hard experience.</p><p>Fahlstrom said the rationale was common sense. &ldquo;In a fire situation,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;if you&rsquo;ve got one exit and the fire gets between you and that exit, you&rsquo;re in real danger.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BACK%20PORCH%20view%20Flickr%20meconnors.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The zig-zag of wooden porches, both enclosed and exposed, are a common sight from many of Chicago's back alleys. (Filckr/Maura Connors) " /></p><p>While technically not a fire escape, back porches did satisfy building code requirements and make for another option if a front exit was unpassable, and vice versa.</p><p><strong>Party in the front, business in the back</strong></p><p>If you walk from front to back on any Chicago two-flat, you&rsquo;re likely to notice one side is more comely. The fronts of buildings sport decorative flourishes such as limestone window sills, stained glass or arches. Likewise, the front interior staircases are often made of nicer-grade wood, sometimes with classy bannisters or carpets. The front is where you let your guests in and make an impression.</p><p>However, it&rsquo;s a different situation at the back of the building, where you hang laundry to dry and haul out garbage. Originally, these back areas were used to receive milk, ice and other deliveries, even when residents weren&rsquo;t home. Physical markers of those uses persist today; some buildings still have a small door in their back walls that once allowed icemen to place ice directly into kitchen iceboxes (fun fact: that&rsquo;s why kitchens in these buildings are next to the back porch). And a few porches still have wooden outdoor &ldquo;refrigerators.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/figure%201%20crop%20for%20thumb%20sc.jpeg" style="height: 378px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="An illustration by Herman Rosse from the 1922 book: 1001 Afternoons in Chicago by Ben Hecht. Scan provided by Tim Samuelson." /></p><p>According to City of Chicago historian Tim Samuelson, these back porches came about partially as an outgrowth of Chicago&rsquo;s characteristic back alleys. He said the extra room reserved for alleys also allowed extra space for large wooden structures such as porches. This is not the case in cities without alleys, such as New York City. Instead, those cities rely on the characteristic slim metal fire escapes, oftentimes <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/44613506@N07/5436965455" target="_blank">on the front of buildings</a>.</p><p>Samuelson also noted that back porches provided refuge from oppressive indoor heat in the days before air conditioning. Enclosed &ldquo;sleeping porches&rdquo; also used to exist in Chicago. And, in some cases, porches served as informal &ldquo;<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95360819@N04/8938609009/" target="_blank">sanatoriums</a>&rdquo; for sick patients.</p><p><strong>But why wood?</strong></p><p>That answer comes down to basic economics. Since Chicago was a center for the lumber industry, and wood has historically been a cheaper choice than metal or concrete, wood won out as the logical material of choice for two- and three-flats&rsquo; porches. In recent years, though, metal has been gaining traction.</p><p>Bob Fahlstrom also said attaching the required rear exit to the exterior of apartment buildings and homes allowed builders to maximize indoor space and value for renters. So from the beginning of these buildings&rsquo; construction, wood as the porch-building material of choice came down to money and ease.</p><p><strong>Porch as fire escape: Does it work?</strong></p><p>While wood structures seem an illogical choice for a means to escape fire, they are indeed effective &mdash; at least if you consider the distinction between making residents safe from fire and making living spaces fireproof. In fact, the revised City of Chicago building codes directly address the use and effectiveness of these wooden back porches.</p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with the code. The city of Chicago has <a href="https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/city/il/Chicago/archive.2012_12/Building/division07.pdf" target="_blank">rules and regulations</a> that allow wooden porches &ndash; especially those on three-flat apartment buildings &ndash; to act as emergency egress.</p><p><strong>Regulations include:</strong></p><ul><li>the porch must be behind a &ldquo;fire-rated wall,&rdquo; one made of fire-resistant brick or other material that burns at a slower rate compared to other materials</li><li>porches may not be wider than ten feet, in order to prevent unwieldiness and collapse</li><li>door frames leading to escapes must also be fire-rated to certain capacities.</li></ul><p>Porches built from sturdy, pressure-treated wood themselves do not burn particularly quickly; it takes a fire about 10-15 minutes to burn through a wood door of thinner width than an average porch, which might take somewhat longer to burn.</p><p>Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said when it comes to fire safety, wooden porches work well enough, adding that the department has a typical response time of about 3 minutes and 40 seconds.</p><p>&ldquo;The department is generally going to get there fast enough to make a good rescue if they get called in time on a fire,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Yet Chicago&rsquo;s fire escapes are far from perfect; they are, after all, still flammable &ndash; and they&rsquo;re often the site of the fire itself.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20CLUTTER.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Porches can catch fire from common porch activities, like smoking or grilling. A cluttered porch can add fuel to flames and make escape more hazardous. (Flickr/Maura Connors)" /></div><p>Langford said in the summertime, the city gets a few calls related to porch fires each week. The causes range from improperly disposed cigarettes that ignite trash or furniture, to Fourth of July fireworks that land on wooden slats. Of course, barbeques &mdash; both gas and charcoal &mdash; are culprits as well.</p><p>While winter porch fires are less frequent, Langford cautioned they often have malicious origins. He said arsonists are well aware of porches&rsquo; flammability, and they&rsquo;ll use them as a sort of fuse to set an entire apartment building ablaze.</p><p>Langford also stressed the importance of smoke detectors as a way to increase the likelihood the fire department will be able to minimize property damage and insure safety.</p><p><strong>Helpful in a fire, but ...</strong></p><p>Unfortunately, the physical history of Chicago&rsquo;s wooden back porches is rapidly being lost. In 2003<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-23/news/ct-met-porch-collapse-anniversary-20130624-6_1_porch-complaints-porch-contractor-713-w" target="_blank"> a porch collapsed in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park neighborhood and killed 13 people</a>. After that tragedy, City Council toughened porch regulations, so building owners and contractors have been busy replacing porches, rather than just repairing them as they used to. These code revisions led to a veritable re-building boom; approximately ten new porch companies joined the existing five in the years following the collapse.</p><p>In almost all cases, the pre-2003 porches are original to their buildings, often dating back to Chicago&rsquo;s construction boom in the early 20th century. Victor Gonzon, a Chicago porch-builder (working at 1-773-Porches), said that hundred-year-old porches are not uncommon, and that he&rsquo;s aware of Chicago porches that may even be 120 years old.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20BEING%20BUILT.jpg" style="height: 442px; width: 330px; float: right;" title="After the tragic porch collapse in 2003 and the city strengthened the building code, most porches in Chicago needed improvements or total rebuilds to get up to code. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" />Gonzon observed that, over time, porches took on a social role in addition to their functional ones. For example, realtors prominently advertise back porches as an amenity, especially as porch parties became more common. Gonzon has even seen porch owners repurpose their icebox features as modern day beer coolers.</p><p>Adam Lesniakowski, who&rsquo;s been building porches in Chicago for four seasons with his aptly-named company <a href="http://www.porch-builders.com/porch-builders-chicago.php" target="_blank">Porch Builders</a>, said he still spots lots of old and new porches around town that violate increasingly stringent city code &mdash; even though there&rsquo;s a fleet of inspectors on the lookout. But code changes are among the reasons his own porch business is doing well.</p><p>The revised code doesn&rsquo;t change the fact that the porches are flammable, even if they are safer for more occupants and used differently. When asked about any apparent irony in having flammable structures act as fire escapes, Lesniakowski thought about it for a minute.</p><p>&ldquo;But our houses are built by wood, mostly,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And you&rsquo;re cooking in the kitchen, you got candles. ... &nbsp;Everything is by the wood.&rdquo;</p><p>He&rsquo;s right. Chicago buildings may have gotten better when it comes to fire safety, but the city will never be fire proof. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Keep up with Curious City&rsquo;s latest via <a href="https://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject" target="_blank">Facebook </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 10:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009