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Setting An Example: Lemont Fire Protection District Retrofits Stations with Sprinklers

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Lemont Fire Station #1 is now protected with fire sprinklers. (Photo courtesy of Larry Shapiro)

In order to lead by example within the community it serves, the Lemont Fire Protection District is taking on an important initiative inside its own doors. The fire district plans to have fire sprinklers installed in all its fire stations.

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Left to right: Lemont Fire Marshal Dan Tholotowsky and Deputy Chief Jay Nickleski, along with the sprinkler fitter.

The newest of the Lemont Fire Protection District’s four fire stations, Fire Station #4, was built with fire sprinklers, but the first three stations did not have fire sprinklers when they were built. That’s all changing though thanks to the leadership at the fire district. At Fire Chief George Rimbo’s request, the Board of Trustees has set aside funding in the district’s building and grounds maintenance upgrade plan to retrofit each of the three remaining fire stations with fire sprinklers.

Chief Rimbo strongly believes in the importance of the fire district serving as a model of fire safety to residents and businesses in the fire district’s 40 square miles located in Lemont and Woodridge, as well as unincorporated areas in Cook, DuPage and Will counties.

“As fire chief, I couldn’t  — in good conscious — ask any business in the community to do something that we haven’t done ourselves. We need to be the example,” says Chief Rimbo.

In 2016, the first of the three retrofits was completed at Fire Station #1, a 13,000-square-foot building that was built in 1976. Since the retrofit project required working around the everyday operations of the fire station, it required careful attention. According to Public Education Coordinator Sandy Dominik, Central States Automatic Sprinklers kept the project neat and efficient, finishing in less than two months.

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Fire sprinklers are installed in the apparatus bay of Station #1.

Fire sprinklers now protect the daily operations in the administrative offices, fire prevention bureau, apparatus bays, training room and more. More importantly, they protect as many as 20 to 25 employees that are present on any given day.

“Members of the fire district are accountable to each other and to the community we serve. The fire sprinkler system will protect the lives of first responders, employees, and the millions of dollars invested in vehicles and equipment,” states Dominik.

The Lemont Fire Protection District plans to retrofit Fire Station #3 in 2017 and Fire Station #2 sometime in the near future.

Chief Rimbo and Dan Tholotowsky and the Board of Trustees have set a great example for other Fire Chiefs and trustees to follow.  Protect your own buildings and firefighters just as the model codes do as a minimum fire safety method.  Congrats to them for showing the way.

Note: You can apply for a FEMA Grant, which may pay for 95% of the retrofit.  Follow other fire department examples: Clarenden Hills, Monee, Skokie, Streamwood, Rockford and many others.

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