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Chicago Building Department Continues To Crumble

By Sam Bakken in News on Oct 26, 2004 8:03PM

Getty ImagesOn Monday, five Chicago Buildings Department employees gave depositions as a part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of a victim of the June 2003 Lincoln Park porch collapse. The five employees were three inspectors and two supervisors and in their depositions they all said they little or no training on porches and most of them admitted they had no prior construction experience.

It really is difficult to be wittily glib or sarcastic about the Buildings Department any longer.

The porch, built sans permit in 1998, went through two (ABC7 also says two) inspections. Neither inspection mentioned that the porch was over 100 square feet too large or that the hardware attaching the porch to the house was not strong enough.

The victim's family's attorney, David Kupets, said, "You could have had two to three times as many kids on those proches and the thing shouldn't have fallen. If any of these building inspectors had been properly trained and qualified, they would have spotted this."

Michael Brennan, an inspector that provided one of the porch's inspections said, "A porch over 150 square feet per unit would not be cited because I didn't know that code." Well Mr. Brennan, since you didn't familiarize yourself with the code you "enforce", 13 people are dead.

Currently, it appears that the training for new hires consists of reading the code manual and one to two weeks of on-the-job training with another inspector. Deputy Buildings Commissioner Chris Kozicki said the department will inspect the hirings of these inspectors (hopefully he reads a hiring code book first).

It's a nice gesture Kozicki, but you need to examine every single inspector on your staff, not just the ones who have been in the news. As we can see, it is a matter of life and death.