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Municipalities Ring in 2011 with New Fire Sprinkler Requirements

Oak Brook Building Department Director Robert Kallien (left) and Fire Chief Tom McEllin were integral to the passage of the Village's recent fire sprinkler requirements.

With a new year comes a new batch of Illinois jurisdictions enacting fire sprinkler requirements designed to increase the life safety of residents, building occupants and firefighters. Currently, seventy-two communities in Illinois have residential fire sprinkler requirements and over 180 communities have adopted stricter standards over the model codes set by the International Code Council (ICC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“The following municipalities have taken important steps toward enhancing the safety of residents and businesses alike,” says Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “We commend them for their dedication to providing the ultimate protection from fires with fire sprinklers.”

Countryside

The City of Countryside amended its model building and fire codes with the help of the Pleasantview Fire Protection District (PFPD), which serves the entire city, in order to increase the life safety and fire protection requirements in the city.

The 2006 editions of both the International Building Code and International Fire Code were amended to require fire sprinklers in all new construction multifamily and commercial buildings. The upgrades and amendments were passed in December 2010 and became effective on January 1, 2011.

“The City of Countryside is also looking into fire sprinkler requirements for existing multifamily and commercial buildings with predetermined conditions,” adds PFPD Fire Inspector Joe Lyons.

Oak Brook

In January, the Village of Oak Brook came through on its ongoing discussions to adopt the most current codes. Effective immediately after having voted, the Village updated its building and fire codes to the 2009 editions of the International Building Code, International Fire Code and International Residential Code.

In doing so, all new single-family homes will be protected with fire sprinklers using the NFPA 13D standard. Also, an amendment was maintained to require fire sprinklers in commercial buildings over 1,000 square feet.

According to the Village of Oak Brook, “The intent is to maintain a standard that will recognize the cost savings available through new construction technology, while protecting the health, safety and welfare of all — both occupants of buildings and first responders.”

Fox River Grove

Discussions of new fire sprinkler requirements also began in January for the Village of Fox River Grove. With the Village looking to redevelop the downtown area, Fire Inspector Rich Kreher and John Spurgeon, building inspector for the Village, sought to increase the level of fire protection in the Village with fire sprinklers.

The ordinance was voted on in January and requires fire sprinklers in all new construction commercial buildings (zero square foot threshold), which is a big improvement over the previous ordinance that required fire sprinklers in commercial buildings that were over 12,000 square feet.*

“We feel that the new ordinance will benefit not only our community but also those that patronize our businesses,” states Deputy Chief Jim Kreher. “Also, we are now talking about requiring fire sprinklers in multifamily structures. We want to keep our residents safe and, therefore, it is our goal to be the leaders in fire sprinkler protection.”

*Ninety-one communities in Illinois have adopted “zero square foot thresholds.”

Palos Park

In the most recent fire sprinkler ordinance development, the Village of Palos Park upgraded its codes to require fire sprinklers in new construction one- and two-family homes over 5,000 square feet. The decision to upgrade the codes was made when the Palos Fire Protection District (PFPD) was doing the same in 2009. The Village’s building department and PFPD Fire Chief Steve Carr worked jointly with the Village Council to adopt the 2006 NFPA 1 Uniform Fire Code and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. The upgrade was passed in mid-March and is effective on March 28.

According to Village Code Enforcement Officer Rod Albright, NIFSAB Executive Director Tom Lia and Fire Chief Steve Carr assisted the efforts by putting together a presentation to help educate the Village Council and public.

“Our Village is known for its forest preserves and large upscale homes, many of which are 10,000 – 20,000 square feet in size,” adds Albright. “Requiring fire sprinklers on these larger homes will bring balance back to providing an equal level of fire protection to all our residents without overburdening our fire district.”

Albright also notes that the next code upgrades to be voted on will be the 2012 building codes in 2013.

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