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Commissioner Alarmed by Response to Smoke

Thursday, November 06, 2003
Chicago Sun-Times
by Abdon M. Pallasch

"Haven't we learned anything?" an angry Cook County Board member Larry Suffredin shouted Wednesday as he walked into a board meeting already under way on Forest Preserve matters.

Five floors above the meeting, the Chicago Fire Department had been evacuating county workers as they investigated reports of smoke from faulty wiring in a lighting fixture.

Fire officials suspect it was a lighting fixture that caused the Oct. 17 fire that killed six people in the county administrative building.

When Suffredin came into the City Hall/County Building on Wednesday morning, he saw firefighters in the hallway, the elevators turned off, county workers coming down from the 10th floor they'd been told to evacuate -- yet workers from other floors were being told they could go up the stairways.

The lack of coordinated instruction of what people should be doing -- coming so close on the heels of the earlier fire -- made Suffredin angry as he took the elevator to the fifth floor, where county commissioners had begun their meeting "like nothing was going on."

"With what we've just gone through, we still have no plan," Suffredin shouted.

County Board President John Stroger told Suffredin he was breaking up the "decorum" of the meeting and he should take his seat.

No one was injured.



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