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Peoria Home Fire Death Occurs One Week Ahead of Construction Commission’s Meeting on Home Fire Sprinklers

On the morning of June 11, a 54-year-old man died from a house fire in Peoria. The fatal fire occurred one week prior to the city’s Construction Commission meeting, which will be open for public comment on home fire sprinklers in the next building code update. The meeting is being held at City Hall at 2:00pm on June 17.

“Yesterday’s fire was an unfortunate reminder of how susceptible people are to fire in their own homes,” says Tom Lia, fire safety advocate and executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “People tend to have false beliefs that they are safest from fires in their own homes, but statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that more than 90 percent of all structure fire deaths occur in the home. That’s why fire sprinklers are so important.”

The International Code Council has recognized the lifesaving benefits of home fire sprinklers, having included requirements for fire sprinklers in new construction townhomes and one- and two-family homes in each edition of its International Residential Code (IRC) since 2009.

Currently, the city of Peoria enforces the 2006 edition of the IRC, but the city’s Construction Commission is looking to update to the 2012 edition of the IRC, which would include fire sprinklers if accepted as a whole without amendments.

The move to update the code and include fire sprinklers would follow a recent proclamation by U.S. President Barack Obama declaring May as Building Safety Month. It stated, “We are working . . . to ensure neighborhoods across our Nation adopt the most up-to-date building codes and standards that not only help protect individuals and their families, but also support the needs of our cities and towns.”

But Lia says that groups opposing home fire sprinklers in the Peoria area have been actively speaking out against any potential home fire sprinkler requirements by spreading misinformation to mislead the public and elected officials.

“Along with the fire department, we hope to use this coming meeting to be able to counter the misinformation, present the correct facts to the commission and lead them to keep the home fire sprinkler requirements intact in the code update. By including fire sprinkler protection in new home construction, the city of Peoria will enhance the future fire safety of its residents, guests and firefighters,” adds Lia. “Municipalities that opt to remove the fire sprinkler requirements are adopting a weakened code that is not up to national safety standards and are putting their own people at risk.”

 

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