Collapsing may not be a big deal for ground-based porches, but they are for porches two to three floors above. The porch collapse of 2003 in the Lincoln Park apartment building in Chicago, wherein 13 people died and over 50 were injured, should have been a history lesson for every American, and not just porch builders. When the only thing standing between people out on the porch and the cold, hard pavement below is a system of support beams and trusses, the simplest repair jobs can save lives.
Many consider the porch disaster as the last straw for local officials. Prior to the event, porch problems were prevalent enough to force the city into forming a special task force with the duty of making sure the porches of Chicago won’t claim any innocent lives. The recession forced the task force to disband in 2009, but residents have learned their lesson by that time.
The number of city inspectors dropped, but it didn’t equate to the local government slacking off. The few remaining city inspectors have been trained to include porch inspection to their growing list of skills to maintain porch safety and save the city thousands. Ten years after the tragedy, the number of porch issues have dropped significantly.
Chicago is no longer plagued with safety issues regarding porches, but there’s always the possibility of history repeating itself. Safety, in general, is the responsibility of the property owner. More often than not, safety is just a call away.