The meeting was one of the best-attended meetings of the year with 36 members in attendance.  We had two guests join us; former member Chuck Young, President of Hadley School for the Blind and Colleen Wunderlich, his Director of The Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship.  Chuck said that he was interested in a corporate membership for Hadley.  We look forward to once again having Hadley represented at our weekly meetings.
 
President Bob Baker introduced Marie & Jim Newman who own Prosperáre Enterprises, which has started a wholesale gelato company.  They brought two employees, including the gelato barista, and offered samples of about six of their 120 flavors, which the members seemed to enjoy. 
 
Joe Fell spoke of his one-month trip to England and the warm welcome he and his wife received from a local Rotary club. 
 
Patti Van Cleave made a paid announcement about an upcoming event at the Wilmette Historical Museum co-sponsored by the Winnetka Historical Society.  The two organizations are presenting author Dr. Mary Barr who will discuss her new book Friends Disappear: The Battle for Racial Equality in Evanston
 
Barb Tubekis reminded members of the Volunteer Center’s Make a Difference Day on Oct. 25.
 
Rebecca Wolf, Director of Winnetka’s Public Library, proudly announced the opening of the library’s new facility called “The Studio.”  This space, in the lower level, is devoted to the arts.  The equipment in The Studio includes two 3d Printers, a custom embroidery machine, a laser cutter and engraver, a vinyl cutter, a large format poster printer, 4 sewing machines, slide view, film scanner and film-to-digital converter plus a variety of software programs.  The Studio will be open during regular library hours.
 
The day’s speaker was Alan Berkowsky, Winnetka’s Fire Chief.  His presentation was about research into how to deal with fires, some of it conducted at the UL lab in Northbrook.  In 1972 the Nixon administration commissioned a study that resulted in the publication, “American Burning,” This document resulted in improved building codes as well as maintenance codes.  The Chief went through some of the most disastrous fires in the Chicago area for the past century starting with Iroquois Theater fire where over 600 people were killed.  The theater had been proclaimed fireproof but many doors opened inward and many of the victims were piled at the exits.  In 1958 the Our Lady of Angels fire resulted in 93 deaths and 77 injured.  This fire resulted in eliminating glass transoms.  Today in older buildings these have been closed and boarded-up so they do not become a source of oxygen to feed a fire.  And, as recently as 2003 the E2 Night Club fire in Rhode Island resulted in 21 young people being crushed to death as some exits were blocked.
 
As a result of these fires and what current research had revealed we now have stricter building codes. Large public and commercial buildings must have evacuation plans and must conduct evacuation drills.  The Chief asked if we felt that we are safer today than in the past.  Evidence that we are safer would be that there are fewer fires today, that all commercial and public buildings have elaborate alarm systems, more buildings have sprinkling systems and more homes have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.  Yet, we still have homes that do not have proper detectors or they don't have working batteries, systems are not always well maintained.  In the ‘old days’ more of our furniture was made of natural materials such as wood and wool that have a longer flashover time, an average of 29 minutes.  Today with so many synthetics being used for furnishings the flashover time has been reduced to less than five minutes. In a typical home as some synthetics are like solidified gasoline. 
 
For commercial buildings Chief Berkowsky urged that they be outfitted with a sprinkler system, that the fire alarm system be well maintained, that trash not be allowed to accumulate and that owners make sure all entry and exit points are clear.  He said some business owners are afraid that a fire in one part of the building would set off all of the sprinklers and ruin their entire inventory, but he assured the audience that each sprinkler head is individually activated and that smoke causes far more damage than water.  In homes the kitchen is a primary source of fires, he also urged us to make sure all appliances are in working order and that we have working smoke detectors on all floors and in each bedroom.  Candles and space heaters should be used with caution.  He indicated that his department is very willing to do an inspection at no cost for any business or homeowner.  We should also be wary when home repairs are being done as painters, plumbers and roofers are all known to use torches which can start fires, often only smoldering for sometime and then bursting into flames when the worker is long gone.
 
We are grateful for Chief Berkowsky and his leadership of the Winnetka Fire Department in keeping our community safe.
 
 
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