Illinois Fire and Building Officials Meet to Strengthen Commitment to Home Fire Sprinkler Protection

Nearly 26 years since the Village of Long Grove enacted fire sprinkler requirements for new construction homes, Illinois now has 92 communities with such requirements. Many of those communities’ officials attended a special meeting at Lewis University’s Oak Brook campus this February. Local fire and building officials discussed their home fire sprinkler requirements and shared information about why those requirements play an important role in protecting their citizens and firefighters. They also heard from top state and national fire safety officials.

“There is a continuing need to educate newly elected officials and fire and building officials who may not have been in their current positions during the time that home fire sprinkler requirements were enacted in their communities,” say Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board.

NFPA Regional Director Russ Sanders spoke about the educational tools available to communities through the “Fire Sprinkler Initiative” program.

Russ Sanders, regional director for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), spoke about the educational tools available to communities through the “Fire Sprinkler Initiative” program, which is an NFPA effort that aims to bring fire sprinkler protection to homes throughout the United States. Sanders also reaffirmed that the home fire sprinkler requirements currently enacted in 92 Illinois communities are a reflection of the requirements in the latest national model codes. Only two states — California and Maryland — top Illinois with statewide adoption of the national codes requiring fire sprinklers in new construction homes.

Lake Bluff building official Jerry Nellessen discussed his Village’s implementation of home fire sprinkler requirements in a luxury community.

Officials from Illinois communities that already have enacted home fire sprinkler requirements spoke about their experiences in providing better fire protection to residents through the incorporation of home fire sprinklers, including a building official from Lake Bluff and fire officials from Matteson and La Grange Park. Lake Bluff building official Jerry Nellessen discussed passing a home fire sprinkler requirement in a luxury community, while Matteson fire official Sam Anello spoke about his village’s implementation of fire sprinklers in tract housing developments. In particular, La Grange Park Fire Chief Dean Maggos was proud to announce that his teardown/rebuild community recently reached completion of its 50th sprinklered home.

A representative from the national nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) also presented information about the organization’s “Built For Life Fire Department” program. There are 2,500 fire departments nationwide that have joined the free program and committed to making home fire sprinklers a part of their education outreach efforts. HFSC provides the fire departments with resources and its myriad of free educational pieces to educate the public, elected officials, real estate and insurance agents, water supply officials, and others involved in the decision to include fire sprinklers in a community’s homes.

An expert panel answers questions about home fire sprinkler systems and enacting home fire sprinklers requirements.

At the end of the event, fire and building officials submitted questions to a panel of experts that included Lake Zurich Fire Marshal Bob Kleinheinz; former Buffalo Grove fire official and current plan examiner for Fire Safety Consultants, George Michehl; and Rich Ray from Cybor Fire Protection.

NIFSAB provided all attendees over 100 documents and reports that support home fire sprinklers from itself and other organizations such as NFPA, HFSC, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the United States Fire Administration/Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Fire Sprinkler Association.

“This event was an important opportunity for fire and building officials to strengthen their commitments to the fire safety of their communities by sharing and exchanging vital information about home fire sprinkler education and advocacy,” says Lia. “In order for Illinois to continue to advance and ensure the fire safety of its residents, it is up to local communities to continue passing local home fire sprinkler ordinances that prevent future injuries and deaths.”

The latest Illinois communities to pass requirements for fire sprinklers in new construction homes include Riverdale, Westchester, and the Addison Fire Protection District.

 

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