Members of the “Fire Sprinkler Protected” Clarendon Hills fire station are (from left to right):
Jim Schlicher-Firefighter/EMT, Chief Brian Leahy-Fire Chief, Scott Bonser-Captain and Bobbie Bowen-Firefighter/Paramedic

Fire sprinklers save lives. That is an important message many fire departments promote through community education. In addition to protecting occupants in residential and commercial buildings, it is important to protect those who protect the community. Firefighters.

Thanks to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) funding, the Clarendon Hills and Sycamore fire departments were able to retrofit their fire stations with fire sprinklers, protecting firefighters when they are sleeping and staying at their stations ready to respond to calls.

The Clarendon Hills Fire Department received FEMA funding to retrofit their station. According to Chief Brian Leahy, Clarendon Hills Fire Department, the fire station is no different than any other building. “I’ve been an advocate for many years. We have 400 or 500 homes equipped with fire sprinklers. We thought that because we are requiring fire sprinklers to be installed in people’s homes, we should be doing the same at the station. We are now 100 percent sprinklered. We need to protect life and equipment, so we are ready to protect the community,” he said.

The Sycamore Fire Department also received FEMA grants to install a fire sprinkler system in their Station 1. Sycamore Station 2 was protected with a full fire alarm and sprinkler system when it was built in 2009.

“The fire department staff has a duty to improve safety for our members and the public. One of our goals has been to improve safety measures at our oldest fire station which also serves as the fire department headquarters.” said Deputy Fire Chief Art Zern, Sycamore Fire Department. “At Station 1, we host CPR classes and other events open to the public. We also host and instruct Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class for DeKalb County high school students at the station every school day. The fire sprinkler protection is for our firefighters’ safety as well as visitors. Additionally, we are trying to prevent a catastrophic loss to the community if a fire was to start at the fire station. The potential costs of an un-detected fire and delayed suppression of a fire in the fire station are staggering. Aside from the human cost associated with injuries (or worse) to firefighters or civilians, the cost of the damage to the fire station, furnishings, fire apparatus, equipment, gear and PPE could be in the millions of dollars,” Zern said.

The Sycamore Fire Department installed their fire sprinkler system in two phases. In 2015 they received an AFG through FEMA. This grant covered the installation of a full fire alarm system. Zern said they were grateful and fortunate to now receive another AFG grant for the fire sprinkler system.

Nelson Fire Protection installed the fire sprinkler system. “They were excellent to work with, especially with our 63 year-old building,: Zern said. “There were issues with concrete construction features and working around the existing infrastructure. Nelson Fire Protection was very helpful during the design phase and getting the project ready to go.”

Congratulations to these fire departments and the communities they serve.