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Gurnee Passes Progressive Residential Fire Sprinkler Ordinance

On June 18, officials from the Village of Gurnee passed a residential fire sprinkler ordinance by adopting the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC), which will require fire sprinkler systems in all new one- and two-family homes and townhomes effective immediately.

The International Code Council’s IRC began requiring fire sprinklers in the 2009 edition and has since been adopted as a statewide measure in California and among numerous local jurisdictions nationwide. NFPA 1 and NFPA 101 are model residential codes from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that have required fire sprinklers since the 2006 editions and are also widely used by local jurisdictions across the nation.

According to the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), Gurnee now joins 77 other municipalities and fire protection districts in Illinois that require fire sprinklers in one- and two-family homes through the adoption of the model codes provided by the International Code Council and NFPA. Gurnee is the fourth jurisdiction in Illinois to pass residential fire sprinkler requirements this year, joining Manhattan Fire Protection District, Glencoe and Flossmoor .

NFPA reports that 85% of fire deaths in 2010 occurred in the home, where people tend to feel the most comfortable and secure. Fire Chief Fred Friedl, Fire Marshal Tom Keefe, and the Gurnee Fire Department, as well as Community Development Director David Ziegler, were instrumental in the adoption of the IRC and its fire sprinkler requirements in order to avoid Gurnee residents from becoming part of the residential fire death statistics.

“As a measure leading up the vote, these individuals from the fire and building departments worked strenuously to educate their fellow peers and the Village Board about the benefits of fire sprinklers and help dispel the myths and misinformation about fire sprinklers,” says NIFSAB Executive Director Tom Lia.

In fact, the Village Board took a few extra months to make sure that they fully understood residential fire sprinklers so that they were aware of all factors involved in making such an important decision. They welcomed fire sprinkler demonstrations from NIFSAB and letters and suggestions from Russ Sanders, director of NFPA’s Central Regional Office, and Maria Figueroa, regional director of NFPA’s Fire Prevention Field Office. Even NFPA President Jim Shannon wrote a letter to the local online newspaper to explain how residential fire sprinkler ordinances provide safer housing for communities.

“NFPA was a tremendous help by bringing their national expertise into this local effort. The collective education and advocacy efforts by all organizations involved helped Gurnee officials understand the importance of the life-safety protection that fire sprinklers provide in homes,” Lia notes. “With this fire sprinkler ordinance, Gurnee has become a model community for fire safety. Congratulations to Mayor Kristina Kovarik and all of the Village Board for recognizing the important role that fire sprinklers play in protecting the lives of Gurnee residents.”

 

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