Deceased Firefighter's Family Files Lawsuit

Edward Stringer died in 2010 during a fire at a vacant former dry cleaning business when the roof collapsed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Oct. 19, 2011: Edward Stringer died in 2010 during a fire at a vacant former dry cleaning business when the roof collapsed. (Published Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011)

    The family of deceased Chicago firefighter Edward Stringer has filed a lawsuit against the owner of the vacant building where Stringer died last year.

    Jennifer Stringer, his 23-year-old daughter who filed the suit with her brother, called the morning of the Dec. 22, 2010 fatal fire "unforgettable."

    Stringer, 47, and Corey Ankum, 34, died that day while searching for people inside a former dry cleaning business at 1744 E. 75th St. on the city's South Side. The building had been vacant for the previous five years.

    Ankum and Stringer were inside when the roof collapsed during a three-alarm fire.

    Ankum had been on the force for nearly two years. Stringer was a 12-year veteran.

    "Two heroic firemen are not here today because the roof of the abandoned building collapsed," Jennifer Stringer said, reading from a prepared statement Wednesday as she introduced the lawsuit.

    She pointed out the owner had been cited 14 times for code violations. The lawsuit also states no one who fought the fire that day knew the history of the building's citations or how dangerous it was when they entered.

    "The purpose of this suit we're filing is also to bring the public's attention to the seriousness of the danger that every firefighter in Chicago faces," she said.

    Jennifer and her brother, Edward Stringer, Jr., said they want the city to do more when it comes to abandon buildings.

    A federal investigation into the blaze last December said lack of communication, lack of radios and lack of a vacant-building marking program contributed to the deaths.

    The report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended the Chicago Fire Department provide each firefighter with a radio and develop operating procedures for dealing with abandoned and vacant buildings.

    Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff said the department agrees with many of the findings and has made changes to incorporate them, but he disputes that a lack of radios for each firefighter contributed to what happened.

    The lawsuit comes, interestingly, on the same day that Chicago firefighters escaped a partial roof collapse at an early-morning fire at a West Garfield Park building.