The village of Riverside in August sued a local real estate management company to force the installation a new fire alarm in a mixed-use commercial building that has been without a working fire alarm system for more than year.
On Aug. 7, the village filed suit in Cook County Housing Court, asking a judge to compel Reliable Management Company to install the fire alarm system inside the building that sits on the southeast corner of Longcommon Road and East Burlington Street.
The building houses several commercial tenants, including Empanadus, Prehop Cleaners, Sticky Worldwide, Sylvester Realty and Salon Elia. Residential apartments are located on the second floor of the building.
To date, the village has imposed fines totaling about $1,000 against the company for failure to replace the fire alarm system, which was found not be in working order in August of last year. It’s unknown how long the alarm system was not working prior to that date.
Fire department personnel first reported the problem after responding to an activated fire alarm at 5-7-9 Longcommon Road on Aug. 22, 2014. At the time, fire personnel determined that the alarm panel wasn’t working properly, according to the lawsuit.
On Sept. 16, 2014, the village issued a citation to Reliable for failing to maintain an active fire alarm system, and the village’s adjudicator issued a finding of default on that citation in November 2014. The village again cited Reliable on Dec. 31, 2014.
In March 2015, Reliable was notified by fire department officials that the fire alarm system was beyond simple repair and needed to be replaced, according to the lawsuit.
Despite being cited and fined by the village, Reliable has not installed a new fire alarm system. And until last month when the matter went before a Cook County judge, the building lacked battery-operated smoke alarms, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit asked the judge to order that tenants had to vacate the building if Reliable did not install smoke detectors and station someone at the building as a “fire watch” within 10 days of a court order.
Sonya Abt, the village community development director, said Reliable has installed smoke detectors since the lawsuit was filed. Judge James Gavin ruled on Aug. 26 that the fire watch was not necessary but set a court date of Sept. 29 to get an update from Reliable on its plan to replace the fire alarm system.
Abt confirmed that Reliable has submitted plans for a new fire alarm system. The plans have been reviewed by a third-party consultant employed by the village. Reliable reportedly told Gavin that it estimates a new fire alarm system will be installed by Oct. 10.
Riverside Village President Ben Sells said he wouldn’t comment specifically on the ongoing litigation against Reliable Management, but said that the lawsuit showed Riverside will go after property owners to comply with the village code.
“It is the village’s policy to enforce our laws, and we intend to do so,” Sells said.
Reliable Management is headquartered at 28 East Ave. in the Tower Building, another property the company manages. A call by the Landmark to the attorney representing Reliable Management was not returned.
In 2006, the village of Riverside sued Reliable Management over unsanitary conditions involving a broken toilet in a second-floor apartment. The toilet leaked into a jewelry/antiques business below it, forcing the tenant to abandon the space.
That lawsuit was dismissed, according to the Cook County Circuit Court website, because the village didn’t pursue prosecution.