Employees' complaints not addressed, investigators claim
The most serious: Cook County officials are accused of ignoring earlier employee concerns over locked stairwells at the Cook County Administration Building, where six people died last October after being trapped in smoke-filled stairwells.
Cook County is accused of: 1) Ignoring employee safety concerns over locked stairwells before the fire; 2) Not ensuring firewall in stairwell where bodies were found was airtight; 3) Not inspecting faulty smoke-clearing stairwell louvers since 1974; 4) Failing to develop emergency action plan and fire prevention plan; 5) Not recognizing the danger of evacuating workers through building lobby crowded by firefighters.
The Chicago Fire Department is accused of: 1) Failing to provide an adequate level of disaster-scene training; 2) Ignoring its own procedures requiring the "senior fire official on the scene" to coordinate firefighting and rescue efforts; 3) Failing to set up adequate communications between firefighters at the Cook County Administration Building and the command van, which was relaying information about 911 calls from people trapped inside the building to firefighters on the scene.
"We have a great fire department," said Mayor Richard Daley.
County officials claim no employee complaints about locked stairwell doors ever were brought to their attention before the fire and dismissed that finding as "hearsay." Such locked doors were legal for security reasons, officials said.