A Note from the Water Commission on the Recent Fire at Willowbrook Ballroom

On October 28, 2016 at approximately 2pm, the Tri-State Fire Protection District was called to respond to a fire at the Willowbrook Ballroom.

The blaze destroyed the iconic building in just minutes.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., the Willow Springs Police Department requested that a representative of the West Suburban Water Commission be dispatched to the ballroom. At approximately 2:40 p.m., Colleen Kelly – a Class A water operator certified by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and nearly 20-year water commission employee named IEPA “Operator of the Year” in 2012 – arrived on scene.

Ms. Kelly immediately noticed that emergency personnel were attempting to connect fire hoses to multiple fire hydrants fed by one water line. Knowing it is virtually impossible to sustain the volume of water needed, she advised personnel they could increase the water volume by accessing hydrants fed by a larger water main nearby. Firefighters immediately acted and accessed the larger line. Because the West Suburban Water Commission uses state-of-the-art, variable frequency drive pumps that automatically respond to increases in water pressure or volume demand, the original line never lost full pressure and firefighters were able to keep at least one hose on the original line and never interrupted their extinguishing efforts. 

Ms. Kelly also advised personnel of yet another alternative water source within a reasonable distance of the fire, but fire personnel decided against using that, because fully-stocked tankers were already en route. All sources of water and their capabilities are listed in the water atlas provided to the Tri-State Fire Commission by the West Suburban Water Commission in 2013.

Ms. Kelly remained on the scene for several hours and after she advised personnel about the availability of other water lines, there were no concerns raised by those on site about water pressure or volume. In total, water supplied by the West Suburban Water Commission during the Willowbrook Ballroom fire exceeded four times the daily average provided to our communities.


West Suburban Water Commission

Board of Commissioners