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A fire this past weekend in a six year old Glen Ellyn, IL home proved the success of the community's home fire sprinkler ordinance passed for all new homes ten years ago. According to the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler
Advisory Board (NIFSAB)
, the
event marked the first home fire sprinkler activation within Glen Ellyn, since the provision was enacted in March 2002 to protect
residents, their homes and the Village’s volunteer firefighters. At the
time, Glen Ellyn was only the eleventh community in Illinois to adopt
such an ordinance, providing a model for many other communities to
follow. The Village currently stands as one of 79
jurisdictions in Illinois that require residential fire sprinklers.


By contrast, media covered a June fire that gutted a single family in the same community. According to a news report,  firefighters worked for three hours to extinguish the flames and the home had extensive damage. There were no fire sprinklers in the home.


We recently highlighted the City of Blue Island, IL when it became the 79th community in Illinois to require home fire sprinklers. The Fire Sprinkler Initiative provides a number of key resources for use by advocates to push for the increased use of home fire sprinklers.



FSI August 2012 newsletter"I fear that what we're experiencing in the fire sprinkler battle is what marathon runners refer to as 'The Wall '– a numb mind, zero energy and not enough muscle power to pull us through to the finish line." In the August issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative News, we feature a rallying cry issued by Fire Rescue Magazine's Timothy Sendelbach, who provides an excellent overview of the mighty influence of our nation's fire service, and why we need to rally to overcome the politics and other roadblocks that threaten our fire sprinkler efforts.

Our monthly e-newsletter also reminds us that your family - and your precious pets - are all safer with home fire sprinklers, and congratulates Maryland Fire Marshal Bill Barnard for receiving the "Bringing Safety Home" award from NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

Subscribe today to automatically receive our monthly Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter. It's free, informative, and will keep you up to date on anti-sprinkler legislation, our advocacy efforts, and other sprinkler-related news.

ILAs reported on, the City of Blue Island, Illinois, recently updated its fire and building codes to require fire sprinkler protection in all new one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes (homes) construction effective immediately.

With this action, Blue Island becomes the 79th community to mandate fire sprinklers in all new home construction. "Congratulations to forward-thinking Mayor Donald Peloquin, the City Council and the fire and building departments for investing in the future safety of Blue Island residents and firefighters," says Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB). "They truly understand and recognize the important role that fire sprinklers play in protecting lives and property, making Blue Island a model fire-safe community."

See a map of IL communities and other jurisdictions in the U.S. that require fire sprinklers in all new homes.

Engineered lumberCiting the death of a police captain trying to rescue his wife and daughters from a fire in his home a Reuters report has depicted the risks associated with lightweight constructiion and the political climate that keeps life saving fire sprinkler systems from being required in new homes. The captain's wife and the two daughters also died in the fire.

According to the report “the fire spread so quickly that the house collapsed within 10 minutes, which fire officials attributed to the home's lightweight construction.” This fire incident and has also brought to light the predominance of state legislation against the requirement of fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings.

As detailed previously on this blog, and by Reuters today, state governments have passed legislation forbidding local jurisdictions from requiring fire sprinklers in new homes, and/or prohibiting promulgating authorities from including the provision in statewide codes.

The report shines the light on the money and power that opponents exert to influence this trend. In 2009, Texas was one of the first states to pass such a law. “The law's greatest proponents, builder and Realtor trade groups, spent between $1.7 million and $3 million lobbying that year -- at least four times what sprinkler advocates spent,” says Reuters

According to experts quoted by Reuters “laws preempting building or fire safety regulations are unheard of.” "This is the only code provision that I'm aware of in 30 years of being in this business, where we've seen a preemptive strike that says, 'You can't even consider it. It's not allowed,'" said Gary Keith, vice president of field operations for NFPA.

Read the entire Reuters report

MD logoThe State of Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal reports a 21% decrease in fire fatalities in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

According to ABC2News ,"investigators point to this statistic: there have been no fire deaths since 1992  in new townhomes, when sprinklers were mandated."

MD is one of the states to adopt the fire sprinkler requirement for all new one- and two-family dwellings statewide. Before that, 34 cities and counties in MD had adopted the requirement  by local ordinance. Prince Georges County has documented the benefits of residential sprinkler in reducing fire deaths in homes.

“Maryland’s fire service is cautiously optimistic with this year’s data, however, everyone must remain vigilant in fire prevention to continue this trend,” stated State Fire Marshal Bill Barnard. “An estimated 73% of all structure fires in Maryland occur in what most assume to be the safest place, our homes.” Columbian reports that Portland, Oregon firefighters responded to an apartment fire and could hear screaming inside and see smoke seeping from under the door. So they kicked in the door and found — a cat. The cat — named Dude — was fine after the firefighters took him outside and gave him some oxygen. The apartment's automatic sprinklers contained the fire to the couch, where it started.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, a family cat died in a house fire that the fire marshal’s office said was caused by “carelessly discarded smoking material in a trash can.”

All one has to do is Google "cat dies in house fire" or "dog dies in house fire" to begin to understand that there is a problem. During my firefighter career I was able to rescue pets from house fires, and I also witnessed the death of many pets.

In the home fire sprinkler debate, we always talk about fire sprinklers saving lives; but we are talking about human lives. The loss of a pet in a fire may be just as devastating to a family. Our pets are precious to us and we mourn their deaths the same any other family member’s death.

Fire sprinklers are proven to save lives. If you have a reported fire in your home the risk of dying decreases by about 80%. The Portland fire reminds us that pets are equally protected by fire sprinklers in the home.

Special thanks to Marty Ahrens who provided the inspiration for this post.

Brenneco Fire Protection announced that it has won an Award of Excellence from Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC), a respected professional construction trade association. This is the second time that the company has received this coveted award.

Brenneco won for its 2011 Phi Delta Theta fraternity house project at Depauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. The 18,440-square-foot historical home was built in the late 1920’s. The sprinkler system installation was part of a major renovation project to keep the house safe and comfortable for its residents.

As seen in this photo the system piping was integrated as an architectural feature
“The biggest impact of this project for Phi Delta Theta is safeguarding its students and the institution from the threat of a fire,” Eric Flora, owner of Brenneco Fire Protection, says. He adds; "We were able to fulfill those needs in a timely manner so that the historical Phi Delta Theta house and its incoming students would be safe.”


The aesthetics of this historic structure was maintained

The gala recognizing all Indiana chapter ABC winners will be held on Sept. 25.

Learn more about campus fire safety.

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Timothy E. Sendelbach

I recently came across an issue of Fire Rescue Magazine from October 2011. A writing by Timothy E. Sendelbach, the magazine's editor, offers a strong yet realistic perspective on the home fire sprinkler battle, addressing the fire service, saying; "we need a rallying cry."

Lately,the grapevine, blogs and Internet groups are abuzz with talk of the possibility of the fire sprinkler requirement being removed from the next edition of the residential contruction model code. I thought it may be appropriate to revisit Mr. Sendelbach's piece. In it he says 'we’re a group of more than 1 million men and women with a collaborative bond we call “the brotherhood” (and sisterhood!). We’re united by a common mission—to save lives and protect property. We indeed are a force to be reckoned with, a “gang” of many, united as one.'


Reminding us of President George W. Bush's appeal to the nation after September 11th when he stated; "We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail" Mr. Sendelbach believes we need such a rallying cry in the fight for home fire sprinklers because "the thousands of lives that are on the line should be more than enough to provide that voice."


Read Mr. Sendelbach's editorial, "Submission is NOT an Option"


Learn how to advocate for fire sprinklers.</p>

Over 400 communities in the U.S. require fire sprinklers in all one- and two-family dwellings (homes) by ordinance. In this post we will feature the City of Montpelier VT. Community Map

In 2006 this city adopted the Montpelier Building and Fire Code 2007, requiring fire sprinklers in all new home construction. It is important to note that this adoption occurred before the requirement was included in all national model codes. The code also requires fire sprinklers when a renovation increases the footprint of the home by more than 50%. The permit fee for the fire sprinkler system is waived.

In 2008 the city went a step further and enacted a fire sprinkler property tax program. It offers a tax credit of up to $2,500 to owners of properties that are protected with fire sprinklers.

Glenn A Moore, Assistant Building Inspector of the Montpelier Planning and Development Department adds; “the city water department also does not have an annual charge for sprinkler connections, users just pay for domestic water use.”

Stakeholders in communities that adopt fire sprinkler requirements by ordinance work cooperatively to make sure the process meets their specific needs. This city is just one of many that provide reasonable standards of safety for home occupants and firefighters.

Stay tuned for more examples in upcoming posts.

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