Normal Fire Department Hosts 300th Side-by-Side Fire Sprinkler Demonstration in Illinois

Listed from left to right: Jeff Feid, Loss Mitigation Administrator, State Farm Insurance; Peg Paul, Communications Manager, Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition; Tom Lia, Executive Director, Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board; Mick Humer, Fire Chief, Normal Fire Department; John Grussing, Assistant Fire Chief; and Matt Swaney, Public Education Officer

As part of its National Fire Prevention Week activities, the Normal Fire Department hosted a fire sprinkler demonstration on October 6, 2010, that was recognized as being the 300th side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration in Illinois.

The demonstration included two similarly furnished rooms — one equipped with fire sprinklers and the other not. More than 300 attendees at the event were able to see the dramatic difference of the lifesaving fire sprinklers controlling the fire in one room versus the deadly fire in the unsprinklered room.

“Many people do not realize how quickly a fire can become deadly. It takes as little as three minutes,” says Tom Lia, Executive Director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “That’s why the Normal Fire Department and hundreds before them have chosen to use side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstrations as the most effective way to demonstrate the value that fire sprinklers add to a home.”

Lia would be one to know how effective the demonstrations can be. In fact, the demonstration performed by the Normal Fire Department marked the 300th side-by-side that Lia and NIFSAB have assisted with since they began the program in 2001. According to Lia, the demonstrations were developed as a way to educate elected officials and community members on the importance of home fire sprinklers.

According to Lia,the success of the side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstrations is entirely due to the efforts of the fire service in Illinois. “This program has really been driven by the motivation of the fire service to provide the public with the most dramatic and realistic educational opportunity available,” he says. “Without them, NIFSAB could have neither reached this milestone nor the thousands of people that have viewed the demonstrations.”

The demonstration in Normal was also special because it was part of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s “Built for Life Fire Department” program funded through a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant awarded by the Grant Programs Directorate of FEMA. This demo was the first of 12 being conducted nationwide to help increase awareness about the life-saving benefits of home fire sprinklers.

The side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration in Normal came at an important time a few months after the town’s adoption of the 2009 International Residential Code, which includes requirements for fire sprinklers in one- and two-family homes.

“Fire officials in Normal are doing all they can to educate the public about the benefits of home fire sprinklers before the enactment date of January 1, 2012,” says Lia. “With all their proactive fire sprinkler education efforts, NIFSAB couldn’t think of any better town to spotlight with its 300th side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration.”

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