Fire Sprinkler Save at Rockford Apartment Building Proves Value of Fire Sprinklers in Residential Building Codes

Due to the quick response of a fire sprinkler system, no one was hurt in a fire on October 20 at the 10-unit Riverside Apartments building at 3701 Trilling Avenue in Rockford. The sprinkler system allowed residents to safely as escape as it controlled the fire, which began when a resident fell asleep with food cooking on a stovetop. This was the second fire sprinkler save this year in the same apartment complex with another save occuring on July 23, 2015, in the building at 3795 Trilling Avenue.

One fire safety advocate says the successful fire sprinkler activation is an important example of why fire sprinkler requirements are present in national model building codes, but points out that the city of Rockford has chosen to remove some of those requirements.

“As the city of Rockford is currently updating its building codes, city officials are considering the removal of fire sprinkler requirements for new construction townhomes and have already omitted requirements for fire sprinklers in new construction one- and two-family homes,” states Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board.

Currently, only apartments are protected with fire sprinklers. But Lia says that not requiring fire sprinklers in new townhomes and homes would be a big mistake.

“Why would city officials only choose to protect apartment buildings with fire sprinklers when all residential buildings are at risk of fires?” he questions. “Just as a fire can easily spread from one unit to another in an apartment building, the same can happen with townhouses due to common roofs and walls.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 8 out of 10 fire deaths occur in residential buildings.

“A building code that has been modified to remove safety factors such as fire sprinklers is defective and does not protect future generations of Rockford residents. We urge Rockford city officials not to fall prey to pressure and misinformation from anti-sprinkler groups, but rather keep the model codes intact to provide the best fire safety technology for residents and firefighters alike.”

 

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