Local News

Lockport fire district also says The Barn needs sprinklers

Kaity Siegel-Grimmenga opens a set of doors Wednesday, May 9, 2018, to a the 5,000 square-feet Amish barn used as a banquet hall at Siegel's Cottonwood Farms. The barn was shut down Tuesday following an investigation by Will County Land Use Department.[]

The Lockport Fire Protection District has told Paul Siegel that his new event venue needs a sprinkler system.

Siegel, a trustee with the fire district, said he requested the district’s review of The Barn at Cottonwood that led to the finding that a sprinkler system for fire suppression is needed.

Will County officials last week obtained a temporary restraining order to stop The Barn at Cottonwood from being opened for events because it was never inspected for the weddings, parties and other events to be held there.

In addition to a sprinkler system, county officials said that The Barn needs running water, bathroom facilities, driveways leading in and out and other accommodations required of commercial operations open to the public.

The restraining order was extended to June 7 to accommodate new lawyers hired by Cottonwood Farm.

Both the county and the Lockport Fire Protection District said that the facility at Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm must be equipped with a sprinkler system for fire protection.

“It’s deemed an assembly, so it needs a sprinkling system for life safety code,” Lockport Township Fire Chief Paul Hertzmann said.

Siegel is a trustee on the board that oversees the fire protection district and serves as its treasurer. But he said he could not necessarily be expected to know that the building would have required a sprinkler system.

“That’s a determination that’s made on a case-by-case basis,” Siegel said.

Siegel said he asked that the fire protection district evaluate the building at least three weeks ago and was notified last week of the finding. Siegel said the fire protection district had a consultant do the review because of his position as a board trustee.

“They don’t want anybody to think anybody’s getting anything special, and I don’t want that either,” he said.

Siegel said no commercial events have been held at The Barn. A wedding had been scheduled for May 26.

On May 9, officials from the county land use, health and highway departments showed up with a search warrant to look for evidence that events may already have been held at The Barn.

Will County State’s Attorney’s Office spokesman Charles Pelkie would not say what was found during the inspection of the facility.