ORLAND PARK, IL (November 27, 2019) – When Erik Hoffer, the Executive Director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), bought an existing home in Frankfort, he knew he would have it retrofit with home fire sprinklers before he and his family would move in.
“There are only a few homes in Frankfort that are protected with home fire sprinklers, so we weren’t able to find a sprinklered one,” he said. “Protecting our home and family with sprinklers was essential for us, but it also presented an important educational opportunity for our community.”
“Due to fire sprinkler myths that are on full display in television shows and movies, most people are not aware that fire sprinklers are individually heat activated and, therefore, do not all activate at once,” added Hoffer.
While the walls were still open and the fire sprinkler piping visible, Erik and his wife Karah held an open house to introduce their home to neighbors, elected officials, building officials, real estate agents and members of the fire service so they could see and learn about the system.
With daughters ages two and four years old, the priority for the Hoffers is protecting their family. Fire safety, in particular, is top of mind for Hoffer, who has spent 12 years of his career working with safety organizations developing educational campaigns, including fire sprinkler awareness. He joined NIFSAB two years ago as Field Operations Local Coordinator. In September, he was promoted to Executive Director.
“My role is to educate the various groups about the dangers of unwanted fire and the important life-safety role of fire sprinklers. I’ve had the opportunity to help area fire departments conduct live fire demonstrations that compare rooms with and without fire sprinklers. I’ve seen firsthand how quickly fire becomes deadly and how a single fire sprinkler can contain a fire or extinguish it. With my work advocating for fire sprinklers, there was no question I wanted to be able to say ‘yes’ when asked if I have sprinklers in my own home,” Hoffer said.
During the Hoffers’ open house, representatives from the nonprofit educational group Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the National Fire Sprinkler Association set up displays and offered educational information to guests. A representative from United States Alliance Fire Protection, the contractor that retrofit the home, was also available to answer installation questions.
Hoffer said he was very pleased with the turnout. “The village of Frankfort’s Mayor Jim Holland and Trustee Margaret Farina attended and asked a lot of questions. It was nice to have their interest and show them our new sprinklered home,” he said. “It was great to see fire officials from Frankfort and neighboring communities and meet some of our new neighbors.”
Typically, fire sprinklers are installed when a home is being built. Hoffer worked with USA Fire Protection because they also have experience retrofitting existing homes. The retrofit project took just over a week. The system also includes a strobe alarm mounted outside the home and an alarm inside the home. Hoffer said other than a few holes in some walls that need to be patched and some clean-up work, the family can move in to their fire-safe home.
“It will be nice to enjoy the holiday season in our new home. Now that we will be living in a sprinklered home, we will have peace of mind year-round.”