Captain Anthony Simone (left) received a new, sprinklered home with help from Homes For Our Troops, a nonprofit that builds specially adapted homes for veterans. Joining Simone at a special ceremony was Timothy McHale, the nonprofit's president and CEO.
“When your life is altered completely and normal is no longer a word that applies to you, it can be a totally life-changing incident,” said Air Force Captain Anthony Simone, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a rescue helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2010. He gave those words during a May ceremony in Manhattan, Illinois, where he received the keys to his new home provided by Homes for Our Troops. The nonprofit builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes for veterans. Though sad about the horror he and his family have gone through post-injury, I’m thankful his home is compliant with the American Disabilities Act and also includes fire sprinklers.
The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board and the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition first heard about Simone, his family, and Homes For Our Troops from Manhattan Fire Protection District Chief Dan Forsythe. When I first saw the plans, I noticed a closet that seconded as a safe room for hurricanes. Although we do not have hurricanes in Illinois, we do have fires. Home fire sprinklers are essential in protecting the entire home—not just a single room—in the event of a fire.
We decided that donating fire sprinklers and the installation was in order. We worked closely with Chief Forsythe and Bill Sutterlin from Advanced Fire Protection to ensure a quality design and installation in accordance with NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes. The water was supplied by a well pump.
Simone's new home in Manhattan, Illinois.
Manhattan is one of 104 Illinois jurisdictions that have adopted home fire sprinkler requirements. Village officials have maintained the importance of following the national model codes despite one of the county commissioners looking to eliminate all building codes for three years to "help boost construction." While protecting Simone and his family, the project with Homes For Our Troops also helped educate elected officials about fire sprinkler necessity. We also conducted a live burn/sprinkler demonstration near the home.
We were fortunate to provide Captain Simone and his family with the utmost in fire protection. It was a simple act with simple motives: to help someone who needs more help than we do. Please help your wounded veterans by looking into opportunities with Home For Our Troops to see what you can do in your region to help protect veterans from the dangers of fire. There is no shortage of needy families.
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. Lia regularly offers his perspective on sprinkler activities taking place in his state and elsewhere.