Fire Sprinklers in Extreme Makeover:Home Edition - The Montgomery Family

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Nov 5, 2009

Incredible effort, serendipity, and a "teachable moment" made possible the inclusion of an NFPA 13D system in the rebuilding of a home for the popular TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Tom Harnsberger, Director of the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts used all of the above to accomplish, what at first appeared to be, the nearly impossible.

The home had been chosen by the TV show and Brady Homes, of Bloomington, IL was selected as the local building sponsor to donate the labor and resources. One of the owners of the company is IL Senator Bill Brady. Senator Brady had previously introduced legislation to keep communities from adopting the home fire sprinkler requirement. Tom Harnsberger knew it would not be easy to convince this builder to include a fire sprinkler in this home. But there was something else now driving his efforts; he found out the family chosen for the extreme makeover was his own daughter's house. He became more determined than ever to make it happen.

The old house before it was demolished

Tom was having dinner at a tavern in Philo two nights before the project was supposed to start. Senator Brady also happened to be there having dinner. After a few looks across the table Tom approached the Senator. At this chance meeting he told Tom that they had decided not to include the fire sprinkler in the project. Tom didn't give up and wanted to know why. Senator Brady was concerned about the inspection and maintenance, and other ongoing costs for the homeowner. This became Tom's "teachable moment." He explained the simple inspection and maintenance requirements of an NFPA 13D system and other concerns that the senator had mentioned; including the cost of design and installation. Tom quoted the $1.50 average cost to include a system in IL and promised him that it would not delay the project. Before walking out that night, he had gained approval for the system.

The fire sprinkler design and installation team went to work and the project became a reality through hard work and dedication. Look closely at the picture below to view the lightweight construction that is now protected by a sprinkler system

Sprinkler fitters hard a work

Sami Aziz, Field Producer for the show had this to say; "I spent the day, roughly 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. with the fire sprinkler crew.  They actually started about 4 pm and finished about 10pm.  Additional time was necessary to track down a particular fitting and for the glue to dry. Impressive 6 hours." He had this to say about the house;  "Now it has a residential fire sprinkler system that is cutting edge fire safety for the family."

A happy Addy Montgomery (Tom's grandaughter) smiles for the camera after the house is completed

From Senator Brady's website: "Throughout his life, Senator Bill Brady has worked to make a difference in the lives of Illinois families, whether it was building affordable quality homes for them or working in his community and the General Assembly to give them a better quality of life and a brighter future." By approving and participating in this project Senator Brady has demonstrated his commitment to all of the above. Thank you.


Thank you also to Tom, Peg Paul of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, Tom Lia of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, and the rest of the people in the team who made this possible. One more family is safe in America today due to your commitment to life safety.

Tom Harnsberger with the new home visible in the background

The show aired on October 25th and may be viewed here: http://abc.go.com/watch/extreme-makeover-home-edition/92244/239472/montgomery-family

Maria Figueroa