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One of the best ways to educate elected and building officials about home fire sprinklers is to conduct installations with help from charitable organizations. This type of event can be useful during summer and early fall (peak construction season) and can become a major educational opportunity. The Northern Illinois Sprinkler Advisory Board has worked with fire and building officials to conduct more than 45 open house events in the last decade. You can do it, too, at little or no cost.
It is important to first consider who could most benefit from the lifesaving benefits of a sprinkler system. Perhaps you would like to protect an individual with a disability, a burn survivor, group home organization, an injured veteran, or a firefighter who is an advocate of fire sprinklers.
Next, choose a qualified fire sprinkler designer who can develop a plan in accordance with NFPA 13D, +Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.+ Then, secure a qualified, certified, and/or licensed contractor. There might even be a union training center or an Association of Fire Sprinkler Contractor that can take on this project pro bono or as a school assignment.
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When the design is complete, reach out to suppliers and manufacturers to obtain the needed materials: copper, steel, piping, elbows, fittings, quick-response fire sprinklers, valves, meters, and backflows (if needed).
Submit the plans to the authority having jurisdiction and make a personal visit to let them know that this is a charity job. Ask that permit and plan review fees be waived if the town or community participates as a partner. Install and test the system.
Before the walls go up, schedule an open house for local officials. It makes for a more interesting event if questions can be directly asked to the installers. Signs can be made to describe every component as people take the tour. These events are also a great media opportunity.
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Attendees get the opportunity to see how the fire sprinkler installation process fits into the overall home construction schedule, and why fire sprinklers are not placed in all locations. Moreover, they will learn about the ease of annual homeowner verification of system operation as well as obtain information on water tap size, system demand, water meter involvement, backflow function, and possibly the operation of the inspector test and alarm bells and horns, if that option is chosen.
Best of all: one of your more vulnerable residents will now live in a sprinkler-protected home with more peace of mind and lower fire insurance costs.
This post was written by Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting legislation, raising public awareness, and educating code officials and government policymakers on home fire sprinklers. This blog regularly feature's Lia's perspective on sprinkler activities taking place in his state and elsewhere. - See more at: http://sprinkler.blog.nfpa.org/tom-lia/#sthash.eQr5lmM5.dpuf
This post was written by Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting legislation, raising public awareness, and educating code officials and government policymakers on home fire sprinklers. The blog regularly features Lia's perspectives on sprinkler activities taking place in his state and elsewhere.