Today's post was written by Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board:
During the holiday season, my family and I took a trip to the Wisconsin Dells and passed through Winnebago County, Illinois. I was reminded of our good fire safety friend and patriot Chief Rob Martin of the Win-Bur-Sew Fire Protection District. Dedicated to his family, his fire district, and his country Chief Rob Martin is certainly someone I look up to.
Rob is one of the esteemed Illinois Fire Service and Building Department Class of 2008(9) and was an asset to the Minnesota ICC historical vote for the inclusion of residential fire sprinklers and the NFPA votes for same. He then did his own research and spoke with community leaders and the fire district board to push for fire sprinklers at a local level. I could never forget his enthusiasm for this issue and for being a part of this effort.
Win-Bur-Sew is one of the most progressive Illinois fire districts outside of the Chicago area. Chief Martin and the Board of Trustees of the Win-Bur-Sew Fire Protection District are examples to all. Their district requires fire sprinklers in all new construction at a zero square foot fire sprinkler threshold, including townhomes and single-family homes following the NFPA 13D standard. This forward thinking is a result of Chief Martin’s dedication to community safety.
Chief Martin understands the importance of educating his community. As a member of a Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) Built For Life Fire Department, he uses consumer education and other available resources to make sure his community understands the life-saving value of home fire sprinklers. He conducts open houses in homes protected with fire sprinklers. To demonstrate how quickly a house fire spreads compared to how quickly a fire sprinkler prevents a fire from becoming deadly, he conducts live side-by-side fire and sprinkler demonstrations.
Chief Martin extended his dedication to community and safety through his extensive military service. As a member of the Army and Army Reserve, he deployed to Afghanistan with the Public Safety Team for Civil Affairs, connecting to local civilians and working with their communities and government to create safer living conditions. During his deployment to Afghanistan, he worked as Deputy Chief of Stability Operations. In Iraq, he worked with Civil Affairs and worked with communities to rebuild infrastructure and care for community needs. He also served in the United States, training soldiers for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Now firmly back in the US after three overseas commitments Chief Martin had to defend his code from attempts to reverse his progressive measures at a recent board meeting where the attempt was held off. His dedication to community and safety is the groundwork for all his efforts. Chief Martin’s and the Board’s action put fire safety first for all new residential and commercial buildings, making Win-Bur-Sew a model to follow. Thank you, Chief Martin!
Tom Lia is 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 features Lia's perspective on sprinkler activities taking place in his state and elsewhere.