McCormick Place non-sprinklered in 1960s; fully sprinklered today

Blog Post created by rcote Employee on Jun 16, 2015

McCormick Place, the convention center hosting NFPA’s
2015 Conference & Expo, is protected throughout by automatic sprinklers but
was unsprinklered when constructed in 1960. A fire in January 1967 spread to
two-thirds of the building area in under one hour; roof collapse ensued as
shown in Figure 1.



Figure 1. McCormick Place fire and roof collapse in 1967.


The lake-front Arie Crown Theater – sight of the NFPA
C&E opening session – was damaged but not destroyed. The convention and
exhibition halls were rebuilt, complete with automatic sprinkler protection.
Today the facility is many times the size of the original as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. McCormick Place today.


For a copy of the May/June 2009 NFPA Journal article – Out of the
by Edward Keegan – on the McCormick Place fire and the rebuilding of
the convention facility, go to:



Ron Coté

NFPA staff