Despite heavy pushback from homebuilders and realtors, St. Charles, IL aldermen approved an ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in all one- and two-family homes and townhomes by a 6-2 vote.
The Northern Illinois Sprinkler Coalition worked feverishly to educate the council and rebut the misleading arguments presented by the opposition.
The requirement goes into effect Januray 1, 2012. In the meantime a "mandatory option" will be implemented. Builders will have to offer buyers the option of installing fire sprinkler systems in their homes.
It remains to be seen how effective a "mandatory option" is when the builder offering the option is so vehemently opposed to home fire sprinklers. This option may only have an opportunity to suceed if it is accompanied by requirements to limit the profit margin on the option and mandates the distribution of objective educational literature for consumers, such as the material available from the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
If builders are allowed to jack up the cost of the sprinkler system when it is offered to homebuyers and are able to quote whatever price they assign to the systems, making them unaffordable, this will have a chilling effect on the decision of buyers to opt for the systems. It is like asking the fox to watch the hen house. According to an article in the Kane County Chronicle, homebuilder John Hall was quoted as saying; “If we can put a program together that is effective in rescinding [the mandate] then it’s a good thing...that’s the ultimate goal.”
Home fire sprinkler opponents need to continue to work hard to increase community awareness on the importance of home fire sprinkler systems. Keep up the good fight!