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Firefighter dies: no permit

January 7th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

A firefighter tragically died in Chicago recently when responding to a call.  Unbeknownst to him, the elevator shaft was open where the elevator was being removed, allegedly with no permit.  Because of the smoke, he had no way of knowing about this hazard and was killed in the fall.  I have been preaching for years about the danger of working without a permit.  People cut corners and don’t get the proper permits usually due to the cost or because they don’t want government scrutiny. People die because of this and first responders are often the victims.

I recently had my own experience regarding permits when we needed a new furnace.  After speaking with the salesman, I asked whether a permit was needed in my village.  He basically said that he wasn’t sure and if we “wanted” to get a permit, we could inquire but many people don’t want “strangers” in their homes and don’t bother.  I checked with the building official I used to work with and it turned out I needed one. (In Illinois, not all towns require one).  As I told this story to a number of inspectors, they told me that by getting the permit, it pretty well assures me that the installers would not cut corners because they know they will get caught. My opinion is that the salesman was trying to discourage me from getting a permit.  I told him so and also that I wouldn’t pay the remainder of the cost until the installation passed inspection.

When a permit is required, it is often because someone died or was injured sometime in the past because of the nature of the hazard.  The general public doesn’t understand this and thinks it’s a money making scheme.  That has not been my experience.  The inspectors it has been my privilege to work with care about safety.  Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy like this to educate the public.

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  1. Concerned Citizen
    October 20th, 2017 at 09:23 | #1

    Maybe I don’t know how firefighters work, but are you telling me that permits for the building would’ve been pulled prior to the firefighter entering the property and he would’ve known about the elevator shaft ahead of time. Also, if the gov’t regulates EVERY single that has injured a person in the past wouldn’t that bring EVERY activity to an unbearable slow down?

    Far more people are injured and killed in car accidents every year, yet, the government passes out licenses like candy on Halloween. We have to get our licenses renewed, but in 20 years since I first received my license I’ve never had to take another drivers exam behind the wheel. This is one of the reasons the “general public thinks it’s a money making scheme.” There are far more dangerous things that not regulated or under regulated that are far more dangerous than the scenarios you mentioned, yet, the government is fine with it because the $$$ aren’t up for grab, but when it comes to home/building permits the $$$ are easy to grab because they can simply put a lien on the property.

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