The Champaign Fire Department responded to 908 S Oak Street on January 22, 2016, for a report of a fire with people trapped. Initial reports were that several people were trapped inside. Fortunately all the residents made it out and only one suffered minor burns. There are many reasons why this fire didn’t turn into a tragedy:
- The Fire Department’s Building Safety Division ensured the building was built to the fire code adopted by the City Council. The Building Safety Division did this through plan reviews and inspections during and after construction before an occupancy permit could be issued. They made certain there were working smoke detectors in the proper locations, that there were fire doors to prevent the spread of fire, plus other fire and building code requirements.
- The Neighborhood Services Department conducted periodic inspections on the property and ensured that the smoke detectors continued to work and that the building still met safety standards. The second floor where five students were trapped was virtually untouched by fire or smoke because the fire doors did their job and held the flames back – even though fire raced up the stairway towards the residents upstairs.
- 9-1-1 calls to METCAD were rapidly processed and dispatched. Champaign Fire crews rapidly responded to the scene and were able to deploy three ground ladders to different windows, deploy fire hoses to fight the flames, deploy two crews to conduct search operations, and more – all in under seven minutes. The rigorous training and professionalism of the firefighters was key to this success.
- The Police Department worked collaboratively with the Fire Department to control the scene and do accountability checks to determine if anyone was missing and possibly trapped inside.
The City of Champaign is thankful no one was seriously injured or killed in this event.