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Check Out the New NIFSAB Website

New NIFSAB website

ORLAND PARK, IL (August 14, 2019) – The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) is launching their new website www.firesprinklerassoc.com.

The new website was designed to be easier to navigate and search for information. With resources on residential, high-rise, Inspection Testing & Maintenance and much more!  Most important, it is responsive, so visitors can view the website on any device, laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone.

2019-08-15T09:50:33-06:00August 15th, 2019|Comments Off on Check Out the New NIFSAB Website

Village of Hodgkins to Pay Half of the Cost of New Home Fire Sprinkler Installations in One- and Two-Family Homes

Village of Hodgkins

Left to right: Village of Hodgkins Water Department Foreman Ken Tucker, Code & Safety Enforcement Officer Dan Tholotowsky, Building Department Inspector Matt Struve, Mayor Noel Cummings, Trustees Paul Struve and Tim Kovel.

HODGKINS, IL (August 14, 2019) – Establishing an unparalleled commitment to public safety, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Hodgkins, IL unanimously approved an update of the Village code to include a financial incentive for installing home fire sprinklers in new construction and retrofitting existing one- and two-family homes.

Effective immediately, the Village will provide 50% of the installation cost when the system is approved. The covered criteria include combined water service and water main tap fees (if any), piping and valves, installation, and testing fees. It is applicable to structures and mobile homes and the Village has set no limit for its 50% cost share. Further, the Village will pay 100% of the cost of increasing the water line size on a newly constructed home (if needed by the plumbing code) for future sprinklers if the owner isn’t ready to install sprinklers.

“All the credit for this program should go to President Noel Cummings and the Board of Trustees,” says Village of Hodgkins Code and Safety Enforcement Officer Dan Tholotowsky. “Although the Village doesn’t require one- and two-family fire sprinklers, they are among the first to offer a financial incentive for them, if not the first. Without the trustees, none of this would have happened.”

The Village of Hodgkins is an older, established community without much new development, he says. There are limited vacant lots for sale and some renovations. But already in the short time since the program was approved, one home has already applied for the incentive and construction is under way.

“The Village has a motto: ‘Small town, big heart’ and I think their big-heartedness could also be a safe heart,” Tholotowsky says. “They believe in fire sprinklers and they care about their residents and first responders. They’ve done an excellent job with commercial sprinklers and this is just another extension of their public safety commitment.”

“This is a step in the right direction for fire safety. It is our desire to be a leader in many ways,” says Ken Tucker, Foreman, Public Works Department, Village of Hodgkins.

Dan Tholotowsky, Village of Hodgkins Code and Safety Enforcement Officer

Dan Tholotowsky, Village of Hodgkins Code and Safety Enforcement Officer

“This is a real credit to the Village of Hodgkins,” says NIFSAB Executive Director Tom Lia. “New homeowners who never knew about home fire sprinklers until now have a new incentive to build here. And for local homeowners who want to retrofit with sprinklers, the Village has made that choice a much more affordable option.”

All sprinkler incentives are good for public safety, whether they’re designed for developers, builders, or homeowners, Lia says. “The Village of Hodgkins incentive is less common, as it so generously benefits the homeowner. It’s important to share information about all kinds of home fire sprinkler incentives to increase awareness and maybe even generate some healthy competition among other local officials!”

Village of Hodgkins Board of Trustees:
President Noel Cummings
Village Clerk Stephanie Gardner
Trustee Tim Kovel
Trustee Lida Mills
Trustee Vicky Moxley
Trustee Dominic Misasi
Trustee Larry Rice
Trustee Paul Struve
Building Inspector Matt Struve

2019-08-20T09:26:23-06:00August 15th, 2019|Comments Off on Village of Hodgkins to Pay Half of the Cost of New Home Fire Sprinkler Installations in One- and Two-Family Homes

Village of Deerfield Protects Residents and Firefighters with Progressive Residential Fire Sprinkler Requirements

Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Protection District’

Shown left to right: Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Protection District’s Deputy Fire Chief Ray Larson, Fire Chief Ian Kazian, Fire Marshal Brian McCarthy and Tom Lia (NIFSAB).

DEERFIELD, IL (August 6, 2019) – Officials from the Village of Deerfield recently adopted the International Code Council (ICC) 2018 edition in its entirety. With local amendments and nothing removed, this will require fire sprinklers in all newly constructed one- and two-family homes and townhomes. The adoption of the code will go into effect on October 1, 2019.

The Village of Bannockburn previously adopted the ICC 2018 edition, which went into effect on June 11, 2019.

Both villages make up the Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Protection District.

“We are very pleased the entire fire district has requirements to keep our residents and firefighters safer,” said Fire Marshal Brian McCarthy.

Tom Lia, Executive Director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, credits Fire Chief Ian Kazian, Deputy Fire Chief Ray Larson, and Fire Marshal Brian McCarthy for their persistence and motivating of the board. Using a NFPA 13D simulator display in the lobby of their fire district and conducting live fire and sprinkler burn demonstrations were key factors in the adoption of the codes.

According to NIFSAB, these villages join 113 other municipalities and fire protection districts in Illinois that require fire sprinklers in one- and two-family homes through the adoption of the model codes provided by the International Code Council and the NFPA.

 

 

 

2019-08-15T10:05:24-06:00August 6th, 2019|0 Comments

Successful Activations (Summer Edition 2019)

AUGUST 2019

Fire Sprinkler Keeps Snack Food Plant from Total Loss

SOUTH BELOIT, IL (August 27) – A single fire sprinkler quickly contained a fire in a fry unit of an oven at Axium Foods on Oak Grove Avenue on Tuesday, August 27 at 8:15p.m.

“We had the fire under control in about 15 minutes and the fire completely out in 20 minutes,” said
South Beloit Fire Chief Michael Davenport.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Source: rrstar.com

 

Fire Sprinkler Stops Fire At Hog Wild Restaurant

MOKENA, IL (August 2, 2919) – A fire sprinkler stopped a fire from spreading at the Hog Wild, located in the Gas N Wash on LaGrange Road. The Mokena Fire Protection District, responded to the call on August 2 around 11p.m. An employee dumped hot ash from a smoker into a plastic 35-gallon trash can which caused the fire.

“This is why we do this. A single sprinkler response saved a $1.1 million building that only suffered a loss of about $1,000,” said Mark Sickles, Fire Marshal, Mokena Fire Protection District. “The business was out of service for approximately five hours during cleanup and the repair and reset of the sprinkler system. Hog Wild didn’t lose one customer as a result of the incident. I love it when a plan comes together!”

Source:  Mark Sickles, Fire Marshal, Mokena Fire Protection District

Fire Sprinkler Limits Fire to One Room at Luxury Hotel

CHICAGO, IL (August 2, 2019) – Firefighters were called to a fire at the luxury Hotel Felix in River North the evening of August 1. Upon arrival, fire crews saw that a fire sprinkler controlled the blaze, confining it to one room. Firefighters easily extinguished the remaining fire. There were no injuries.

Hotel Felix has 225-rooms located in an historic building dating back to 1926.

Source: CBS Chicago

JULY 2019

Fire Sprinklers Protect Landscape and Snow Removal Company

ELK GROVE, IL (July 23, 2019) – Fire sprinklers controlled the spread of a fire at ARO Enterprises, a landscape and snow removal company located at 1401 Tonne. The Elk Grove Village Fire Department responded to the alarm on July 23, 2019 at 7:33p.m. 

“Without the presence of this early detection system, the building and all of its contents would have been a total loss. Instead, damages were held to a minimum and ARO Enterprises suffered no disruption to its main business operations,” stated Jason Staidl, Fire Marshal of Elk Grove Village.

The remaining hot spots were extinguished with a simple pressurized water extinguisher, significantly limiting the typical water damage that occurs when use of a fire hose is necessary.

Although the building was initially built without fire sprinklers, the Village eventually required the installation of the sprinkler system due to the indoor storage of vehicles and related flammable materials.

Staidl went on to say, “The Elk Grove Village Fire Department is proud to share the story of this ‘Sprinkler Save’ to bring attention to the benefits of automatic fire sprinkler systems and their contribution to the preservation of life and property. 

No employees were on site at the time of the alarm. The fire is still under investigation and no foul play is suspected.

Fire Sprinklers Extinguish Fire in Building of Small Manufacturer

BATAVIA, IL (July 11, 2019) – A fire sprinkler system at a small company in Batavia put out a fire before firefighters arrived late Tuesday, July 2, at 11:00 PM.

Firefighters responded to a call of a fire at Mat Masters at 1055 Paramount Parkway in Batavia. Upon arrival, the fire crew found that the fire sprinkler system extinguished the fire and the area was controlled within 20 minutes.

The company offers floor mats, paper products, hand soaps, air fresheners and dust mops.

There were no injuries and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Source: Kane County Chronicle

Fire Sprinklers Extinguish Fire and Protect Occupants of Assisted Living Apartment Building

AURORA, IL (July 10, 2019) – Firefighters responded to a call of an assisted living apartment fire at the 1300 block of East Indian Trail around 1:09 p.m. on July 10. Upon arrival, they found that a fire sprinkler completely extinguished a fire in an end unit.

There were no injuries and the occupants were able to remain in their home after firefighters left. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Source: WSPY FM 107.1 News

Single Fire Sprinkler Extinguishes Refrigerator Fire in Concordia University Residence Hall

RIVER FOREST, IL (July 9, 2019) – A single fire sprinkler extinguished a refrigerator fire in the basement of a Concordia University residence hall located at 74000 August Street at approximately 9:00p.m. on July 9. When fire crews responded to the fire alarm, they learned of a water-flow alarm for the same building where they found that the fire sprinkler, located directly above the refrigerator, had activated.

The River Forest Fire Department was assisted by Oak Park and Elmwood Park Fire Departments who responded to the fire on auto-aid.

Due to summer break, no student residents were in the building at the time.

“The sprinkler system and fire alarm did the job they were designed for. We were lucky the residence hall was unoccupied for the summer and can only imagine what would have happened if the fire occurred 2 months earlier with a building full of student residents,” said Fire Marshal Kevin Wiley, River Forest Fire Department

The estimated amount of money saved by the fire sprinkler activation was between $10 and $12 million.

Source: Kevin Wiley, Fire Marshal, River Forest Fire Department

Two Fire Sprinklers Kept Fire from Spreading in a Third Story Apartment Unit

AURORA, IL, (July 6) – Two fire sprinklers activated and extinguished a fire that appeared to originate in the kitchen of a third story Artesan Lofts apartment unit on Stolp Avenue. The Aurora Fire Department responded to an alarm called in at 8:24 a.m. on July 6.

There were no reported injuries. The official cause of the fire is under investigation.

Source: Aurora Patch

JUNE 2019

Single Fire Sprinkler Kept Warehouse From Sustaining Tremendous Loss

LEMONT, IL (June 27, 2019) – Lemont Fire Protection responded to a call of a fire in a boiler room at a warehouse at 9016 Murphy Road in Woodridge at 9:50 a.m on June 27th. Upon arrival, fire crews found that a single fire sprinkler activated and extinguished the fire. The warehouse stores and produces wine.

“If the fire would have spread outside the room, the loss would have been tremendous,“ said Fire Marshal Benjamin DeAnda of the Lemont Fire Protection District.

There was minimal damage and the facility resumed full operations shortly after the fire.

The cause of the fire appeared to be from spilled oil outside of the boiler.

fire sprinkler
2019-09-11T00:46:19-06:00August 2nd, 2019|0 Comments

Palatine Fire Department First To Receive New Challenge Coin For Reporting Successful Fire Sprinkler Activation

Palatine’s Inspector

Left to Right: Palatine’s Inspector Randy Dowell, Fire Marshal Jay Atherton and Tom Lia.

ORLAND PARK, IL (July 8, 2019) — The Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition, in conjunction with the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), has launched the Save-A-Day Challenge Coin campaign to recognize fire departments and districts that report successful fire sprinkler activations. Each fire department that reports an incident where a fire sprinkler controls or extinguishes a fire will receive a collector coin.

Fire Chief Scott Anderson, Deputy Chief Scott Mackeben and Fire Marshal Jay Atherton of the Palatine Fire Department are the first to receive the official Challenge Coin. Atherton completed the Save-A-Day form after a fire sprinkler extinguished a fire in an apartment kitchen. In addition to completing the form, Atherton submitted a press release promoting the life-and property-saving benefits that resulted from the apartment being protected with fire sprinklers. An American Flag coin holder will also be presented along with the first coin.

NIFSAB has kept a record of successful activations for almost 20 years based on information from fire departments and media reports. According to NIFSAB Executive Director Tom Lia, this information plays a vital role in supporting the need for upgrading fire and building codes that require fire sprinklers.

“When the fire service has information about fire sprinkler saves from their own or neighboring communities, it defends the need for codes that require sprinklers and supports codes that require sprinklers in all commercial and residential buildings,” Lia said.

“Successful activation information is also important to share with the media. Often, these stories are not covered. Quotes from fire leaders that talk about what would have happened without sprinklers or how sprinklers resulted in lives saved, no injuries and less damage, allowing business to stay open and people to return to their homes, can result in effective media coverage,” Lia added. “When a member of the fire service shares successful activation information, they are helping the entire fire safety community. That is why we are recognizing fire departments with this Save-A-Day Challenge Coin.”

Members of the fire service are encouraged to report all successful activations, commercial and residential, using the Save-A-Day online form. Those who complete the form will receive the Challenge Coin. The information must be submitted by a member of the fire service within the state of Illinois.

Each fire sprinkler success story should contain the following:

  • Date, time, and location of the fire, including location’s name and town
  • Number of sprinklers activated
  • Details of the incident, including origin and cause if available
  • Original value of the structure and an estimated restoration value, if applicable.
  • Sprinkler-related quote(s) from local fire official(s).
  • Any news sources that might have reported on the fire online, with URL link(s)

Success stories can be submitted on the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s website. All verified “Saves” will be posted in the next edition of the Fire Sprinkler Times Newsletter and added to the “Saves” document, which is available on the website and to all municipal and interested officials.

ample of the support from NIFSAB for our students and for the fire service in our joint quest for the protection of the public through the use of sprinklers,” Norlin added.

Palatine's fire inspector

Left to Right: Palatine’s Inspector Randy Dowell, Fire Marshal Jay Atherton and Tom Lia.

 

2019-08-15T09:37:32-06:00July 8th, 2019|0 Comments

NIFSAB Donates Display to Help Students In Fire Science Technology Program Learn About Residential Fire Sprinklers

Eric Norlin

Eric Norlin, Fire Marshal with the Lincolnshire Riverwoods Fire Protection District and College of Lake County Instructor, shows the donated residential fire sprinkler display.

ORLAND PARK, IL (July 1, 2019) – The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) donated a residential fire sprinkler display to the Fire Science Technology program at the College of Lake County in Grayslake. Students will learn first-hand what a residential fire sprinkler looks like based on an NFPA 13D system for one- and two-family homes.

Eric Norlin, Fire Marshal of the Lincolnshire Riverwoods Fire Protection District and one of the instructors uses the display to show the contrast between a residential and commercial system. Norlin takes his students on tours through the buildings on campus to show them what a commercial fire sprinkler system looks like. “This display is a great tool to show students what a residential sprinkler riser looks like up close compared to viewing photos and illustrations in a classroom,” said Norlin.

Norlin is a former student of the Fire Science program at the college graduating in 1991. He has been an instructor since 1996. He looks forward to using the display even more in his fire prevention principles and fire protection systems courses next year.

“In my upcoming classes I will build my lesson plans around using this fire sprinkler display. I am also looking to add more teaching tools in the fire protection portion of the class,” Norlin said.

“Receiving this training tool is just another example of the support from NIFSAB for our students and for the fire service in our joint quest for the protection of the public through the use of sprinklers,” Norlin added.

2019-08-15T10:06:18-06:00July 1st, 2019|0 Comments

Home for Wounded Veterans Retrofit With Fire Sprinklers Featured on Designing Spaces

Pre-shoot meeting

Pre-shoot meeting with Chad Huennekens, president, United States Alliance Fire Protection; Noah Currier, founder, Oscar Mike Foundation and Jennifer Bertrand, host, Designing Spaces.

ORLAND PARK, IL (June 3, 2019) – Home fires become deadly in just two minutes or less. Survival depends on being able to escape, literally in seconds. For Noah Currier, a quadriplegic, that’s a terrifying reality.

“It takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, into my wheelchair and outside,” he explains. And beyond his personal challenge, Currier’s house is more than a home. He runs weekly clinics out of it for the Oscar Mike Foundation in Poplar Grove, Illinois. He founded the foundation to help injured veterans get involved in adaptive sports.

Currier’s well-founded fear of fire – for himself and for others who visit his home – was completely eased recently when producers for the television show Designing Spaces heard that his home needed a remodel, and stepped up to make sure it would be protected with residential fire sprinklers.

Designing Spaces is a home improvement show that airs on Lifetime. The production team travels across the country to remodel, redecorate, and redesign homes. The Oscar Mike Foundation retrofit project made perfect sense for the team – an important mission with a vulnerable population. Those most at risk from home fire injury and death include people with disabilities, older adults and young children. Fire sprinklers protect all occupants, but they are especially beneficial in homes with people who cannot escape quickly.

Currier’s fire sprinkler system was donated through a combined effort of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) and the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB). United States Alliance Fire Protection (USAFP) was the fire sprinkler contractor that worked with the Designing Spaces team to design and retrofit the system in accordance with code requirements. USAFP President, Chad Huennekens, was interviewed and will appear in the segment talking about home fire sprinklers, the project, and how it will protect people in the home. The show featuring the fire sprinkler installation at the Oscar Mike Foundation is scheduled to air June 6, at 6:30 am CT on Lifetime. It is a 3-part series with USAFP included in the first segment. The episode will also be available online at https://designingspaces.tv/.

Currier is doubly relieved. Now his home, the Foundation, and the veterans he serves are protected if fire breaks out. He understands better than most how quickly a house fire can become deadly. “My dad was housesitting for his brother when the house caught on fire,” he says. “He was in the basement, and the fire started upstairs. He was severely burned, suffered smoke inhalation, and was in the hospital for a while. The home was lost.”

In a home fire, only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates, in response to the high heat of the flames (135˚-165˚F). The sprinkler works automatically to prevent the fire from spreading or to extinguish it. That provides lifesaving time to allow everyone in the home to safely escape while the fire department arrives. National model codes require home fire sprinklers in new construction.

A veteran himself, Currier’s foundation offers activities ranging from adaptive sports programs to events and other experiences. “We find that when you’re doing something active, you don’t think about the disability,” he said.

The Oscar Mike Compound is a 9,000 square-foot, fully accessible home. More than a dozen people with disabilities may be in the home at one time during activities.

“We’re really grateful for the support,” Currier said. “We’ve already had a few weeks of clinics come in since the remodel, and everyone is loving it. The home is going to be used to serve injured veterans for a long time.”

Pre-shoot rehearsal with Chad Huennekens, president, United States Alliance Fire Protection, Ryan Stanley, Designing Spaces Host, Peg Paul, PPA Communications and Christi Arce, producer, designing Spaces.

Pre-shoot rehearsal with Chad Huennekens, president, United States Alliance Fire Protection, Ryan Stanley, Designing Spaces Host, Peg Paul, PPA Communications and Christi Arce, producer, designing Spaces.

USAFP Sprinkler Fitters

USAFP Sprinkler Fitter Brian Styles, Chad Huennekens, president, United States Alliance Fire Protection, Ryan Stanley, Designing Spaces host and Jeff LaForge, USAFP sprinkler fitter.

Chad Huennekens, president, United States Alliance Fire Protection and Jeff LaForge, USAFP sprinkler fitter

Chad Huennekens, president, United States Alliance Fire Protection and Jeff LaForge, USAFP sprinkler fitter discuss the riser in the lower level.

Jeff LaForge, USAFP sprinkler fitter, Ryan Stanley, Designing Spaces host, Chad Huennekens , president, United States Alliance Fire Protection, Jennifer Bertrand, Designing Spaces host and Brian Styles, USAFP sprinkler fitter.

Jeff LaForge, USAFP sprinkler fitter, Ryan Stanley, Designing Spaces host, Chad Huennekens , president, United States Alliance Fire Protection, Jennifer Bertrand, Designing Spaces host and Brian Styles, USAFP sprinkler fitter.

USAFP sprinkler fitters

Jeff LaForge and Brian Styles, USAFP sprinkler fitters, install pipe in the lower level.

Sprinkler install in the foyer

Sprinkler install in the foyer

 

2019-08-15T13:24:47-06:00June 3rd, 2019|0 Comments

Illinois Joins Nationwide Effort to Increase Awareness About Home Fire Sprinklers; Seven Communities Recognized for Adopting Home Fire Sprinkler Ordinances

Seven Communities Recognized for Adopting Home Fire Sprinkler Ordinances

Group shot of attendees with their NFPA 13D book and Russ Sanders from the NFPA.

ORLAND PARK, IL (June 3, 2019) – In honor of National Home Fire Sprinkler Week, leaders from the Illinois fire service gathered to recognize seven communities who adopted codes within the last year that require fire sprinklers in all new single-family homes. The towns include Lake Forest, Crestwood, Elk Grove Village, Rock Island, Carol Stream, Wauconda, and Palatine. Representatives from more than 100 other communities who have adopted the model codes also received a recognition plaque.

The Illinois event was one of 50 held across the U.S. and Canada. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) initiated this North America-wide campaign to raise awareness of the growing dangers of home fires and the life-saving benefits of home fire sprinklers.

The event was hosted by Alsip Fire Department and Fire Sprinkler Fitters Local 281. Representatives from the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association (IFCA), the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association (IFIA), Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA), the (IAFPD) Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), and the Illinois Fire Services Association (IFSA) presented at the event and each one awarded one of the 7 towns with a special Coalition plaque. Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez spoke at the event and recognized the communities for adopting codes that protect citizens and firefighters. Fire Marshal Perez also presented a recognition plaque to NFPA Regional Director Russ Sanders for his 25 years of support to the Illinois Fire Service. Individuals who attended ICC and NFPA hearings to vote to include home fire sprinklers in the model codes were also recognized.

“Nothing compares to what they do here in Illinois,” Sanders said. “I’ve been doing this for more than 50 years, and I’m always impressed at what these organizations do here with 107 communities passing these codes.” For a complete list of communities that require home fire sprinklers, photos, facts and other resources, visit the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition’s Media Page.

Jim Kreher of IFCA pointed out that home fire sprinklers have been in national model codes since 2006. They are vital because fires burn quickly due to construction materials used in new construction and the contents in homes. “Home fires can become deadly in as little as two minutes,” Kreher said. “That is not much time for people to escape, especially families with small children, older adults, or people with disabilities. Fire sprinklers prevent fires from becoming deadly so everyone can escape.”

According to Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), every conceivable fire sprinkler demonstration trailer available to communities was on display, including four types of trailers where fires are set so spectators can see how a home fire sprinkler activates. The trailers also include displays featuring risers with all home fire sprinkler components. Three different variations of the side-by-side demonstrations were also on display, including the Lake County demo where two rooms are rolled off a unit and the NFSA/NIFSAB flatbed trailer.

The highlight of the event was a fire and sprinkler side-by-side demonstration that was set up to look like the front of a home. It includes two rooms with identical furniture. One was protected with a fire sprinkler. First, a fire was set in the unsprinklered room. In less than 90 seconds, flashover occurred where the entire room was engulfed in flames. Alsip firefighters used their hoses to extinguish the fire. A second fire was set in the room protected with a fire sprinkler. Heat from the fire activated the sprinkler in less than 30 seconds and kept the fire from becoming deadly. Firefighters used a pump can to make sure the fire was extinguished. There was a dramatic difference between the two rooms after the fires. Everything was destroyed in the unsprinklered room, but there was very little damage in the sprinklered room.

Lia said it is important to recognize the communities and fire districts that adopt ordinances and upgrade their codes. “It is often a long process where the fire department must work with elected officials to make sure everyone is educated, has the facts, and makes the right decision. Some towns are presented with misinformation from builder and real estate groups who try to take sprinklers out of the codes, and it takes elected officials with strong morals and ethics to hold firm and resist the possible corruption. These towns need to be recognized because, ultimately, they will save the lives of their citizens and responding fire and police officials,” Lia said.

All the speakers agreed that protecting new homes with fire sprinklers will make the future safer for residents, first responders, and entire communities for generations to come.

2019-08-15T13:26:18-06:00June 3rd, 2019|0 Comments

Why Do We Fight?

By:  Tom Lia, NIFSAB Executive Director

For decades, the fire sprinkler industry has worked closely with the fire service to make buildings safer from fire. That’s our industry’s whole point and it’s a good one. From adopting strong codes that require fire sprinklers in all new construction to implementing inspection, testing and maintenance compliance, we take great pride in what we do and in the ways that our day to day work supports public safety, saving lives and helping improve communities.

So maybe it’s that pride that makes me bristle at efforts to fight fire sprinkler requirements. Anti-sprinkler hostility occurs at every level and in many jurisdictions. We’ve all become familiar with the well-financed negativity that homebuilder and real estate groups use to stop or turn back progressive fire sprinkler codes.

What angers me most and frustrates so many members of the fire service are the misinformation (often outright lies) sprinkler opponents use to convince public officials to vote down fire protection. Perhaps worse is the use of political action funds (PACS) and other ready sources of money to influence elected officials when the time comes for a code vote. Costs are often touted but rarely are the documents presented for fact checking. The most common misinformation trumpeted by homebuilder and real estate groups are high installation cost and that deadly fires are only a problem in older homes. Let me emphasize “groups” as I have great respect for the individual homebuilder company and real estate agent.

In many jurisdictions, one requirement that uniquely affects the sprinkler industry is requirements based on the size of a building. Often, the decision to install sprinklers or not rests on square footage or number of stories. Occupancy type also plays a role, but you get my point. The ICC International Building Codes have an occupancy type checklist from 5,000 to 12,000 and 20,000 square feet, including heights, area limitations and other qualifications. Because of those numbers, owners often order architects to design and build buildings at 4,999 square feet, 11,999 square feet, 19,999 square feet. Whatever it takes to avoid installing fire sprinklers.

Why is that not opposed? Why do we have these thresholds anyway? I have worked with and talked to many code officials and consultants about this and no one can tell me where the square foot requirements came from or what rationale was used.

The challenge is out there; please let me know how these numbers were set up and what data was used to justify. Self-produced documents and reports with a great twist of facts are often sent as letters and emails to Village Boards and legislators.

Yet that is the reality for the fire sprinkler industry. Why should any building be built today without the proven protection of fire sprinklers? Can you think of another trade or industry that depends on the size of a building for its stock and trade?

These thresholds do more than confuse; they open the door to influence and in some cases corruption. From personal experience as a new-construction inspector, and fire marshal, I have seen this myself. I’ve known dedicated Fire and Building Officials who were told to stand down and not push the issue. Some have lost their jobs for trying to do the right thing. I am one of these people who was pushed out of an appointed fire marshal position by politicians who reacted to business pressure after the Orland vs. Intrastate Piping case

According to the NFPA, today’s fires are more deadly than previously. Because of the contents in buildings made of synthetic materials, fires burn fast, produce deadly toxic smoke and can become deadly in as little as two minutes. Firefighters are also exposed to contamination, and as a result there is an increase in firefighter health issues, including cancer.

Anti-sprinkler information that leads to weaker codes is frustrating to members of the fire service. It is frustrating to those of us who know first-hand that fire sprinklers are the only technology that can independently prevent death from fire.

Why do we fight? Because when national codes include fire sprinklers, but builder and real estate groups convince local or state elected officials to take them out of the codes, the result is substandard homes. And when substandard homes and commercial buildings are built they will put occupants and responders at risk.

Our industry helps our communities. Every time fire sprinklers are installed, that building is made safer because it will prevent injury and death, save jobs, preserve property and sales tax, lower insurance costs, help the ISO rating for communities and help protect the environment through water savings and reduced pollution. That building makes the community better for all.

We should not be defensive when fire sprinklers are required in buildings. Instead, the opposition needs to be challenged. Stand tall and join me in working to make codes better, requirements more standardized and buildings safer.

One way to do this is to report all fire sprinkler successful activations to the media. Share them with NIFSAB. We’ll help spread the word. Your community and elected officials need to know every time life and property were saved and tragedy was averted, because the building was protected with fire sprinklers. Click here to complete the Successful Activation Form.

Participate in the “It Takes Two” program by keeping a fire sprinkler and smoke alarm in your command care. Remind the community after a fire that it takes both to prevent fire deaths, injuries and property loss. Both will be presented during the Home Fire Sprinkler Day event May 23, 2019

Finally, sign up for the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition Built for Life Fire Department program,the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter and join the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

2019-08-12T16:44:42-06:00May 5th, 2019|0 Comments

Illinois Joins Nationwide Efforts To Promote Home Fire Safety Measures

Home Fire Sprinkler Week

ALSIP, IL (May 3, 2019) – The Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition is doing its part to educate communities across the state on the life-saving benefit of home fire sprinklers. On May 23, 2019, 10:30 a.m., the coalition is hosting its National Home Fire Sprinkler Day at Alsip Fire Department – Station #2 and Fire Sprinkler Fitters Local #281 UA Training Facility.

The Illinois event will be one of more than 50 held across the U.S. and Canada. The Fire Sprinkler Initiative, a project of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) initiated this North America-wide campaign to raise awareness of the growing dangers of home fires and the life-saving benefits of installing fire sprinklers in new homes. They have established the week of May 19 – 25, 2019 as Home Fire Sprinkler Week.

“The alarming number of home fire deaths and injuries each year should be on the radar of every decision maker,” says Jim Kreher, fire chief, Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District, and one of the event organizers. “Home fires can become deadly in as little as two minutes. That is not much time for people to escape, especially families with small children, older adults or people with disabilities. Home fires also put our firefighters at risk,” he added.

According to Tom Lia, executive director, Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB,) home fire sprinklers have been in national model codes since 2006. More than 110 towns and fire districts in Illinois require home fire sprinklers installed in all new construction.

“We want to provide fire and building officials with all of the latest facts, documents and reports from NFPA, NFSA, HFSC, UL, ISO and many others as they make decisions on future codes for their communities,” Lia said.

Attendees will receive educational materials on home fire sprinklers. The event will include the following:

  • Recognition of seven Illinois communities and fire districts that passed home fire sprinkler codes and ordinances in 2018 and 2019: Lake Forest, Wauconda, Crestwood, Carol Stream, Elk Grove Village, Palatine and Rock Island.
  • Recognition of individuals who participated in key home fire sprinkler votes for the national model codes from the International Code Council (ICC) and NFPA.
  • Recognition of existing communities with home fire sprinkler codes and ordinances.
  • A live, simulated house burn with side-by-side fire sprinkler protected room and unprotected room.

Presenters:

  • Russ Sanders, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • Jim Kreher, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association
  • Dan Riordan, Illinois Fire Inspectors Association
  • Phil Zaleski, Illinois Fire Safety Alliance
  • Steve Iovinelli, Illinois Fire Services Association
  • Tom Lia, Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board
  • Bob Tinucci, National Fire Sprinkler Association – IL Chapter
  • Host: Fire Chief Tom Styczynski, Alsip Fire Department / Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association of Illinois

About the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition

The purpose of the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition is to increase awareness about the residential fire problem in Illinois and to encourage the use of residential fire sprinkler systems to save lives and prevent injuries for both residents and firefighters alike.

2019-08-12T17:40:30-06:00May 3rd, 2019|0 Comments