In an effort to protect their residents and first responders from the dangers of house fires, the Bloomingdale Fire Protection District (BFPD) adopted an NFPA 13D fire sprinkler ordinance for all new one- and two-family homes located in the unincorporated areas of the fire district.
The fire district trustees adopted the ordinance last October after thorough research, education and discussion. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fire sprinklers reduce the risk of death and injury in a home fire by 80 percent and the average fire loss is reduced by about 70 percent. The decision was also made because many homes in the unincorporated areas have water supply issues.
Support from the leadership was very important. Deputy Chief Richard Kurka, who was acting chief and the new chief, Matthew Beyer supported every step of the process and made sure all stakeholders were informed.
Over the years, NIFSAB provided resources and worked with the district to conduct fire and sprinkler side-by-side burn demonstrations. According to Fire Marshal Gary Kostal, the burn demonstrations were an effective way to educate the public about the dangers of home fires.
“People think they are safe in their homes, they don’t realize how quickly a house fire can become deadly,” Kostal said. “The demonstrations helped them understand flashover and how effective home fire sprinklers are at keeping the fire from becoming deadly. Just as other safety features have evolved in our lives, home fire sprinklers will one day be the standard for all new homes,” he added.
Kostal also learned from other members of the service who had been through the process to adopt and/or enforce a home fire sprinkler ordinance. He spent two days with Scott Neil, senior fire inspector for Hoffman Estates Fire Department, performing inspections of fire sprinklers in homes under construction. This allowed him to see what the systems looked like in various homes and understand proper installations.
He also reached out to other area fire districts that had adopted home fire sprinkler ordinances for their unincorporated areas. Battalion Chief Doug Mulford from the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District provided Kostal with a copy of their ordinance and his insight into the code adoption process.
“Kudos to the Bloomingdale Fire Protection District,” said Erik Hoffer, NIFSAB executive director. “The fire district did its homework and made sure all stakeholders and the public are informed and understand the impact fire can have on a community,” he said.
For Kostal, he states that the passing of this home fire sprinkler ordinance is “the greatest accomplishment” he has experience in his 45 years in the fire service.
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