Friday, August 31, 2012

Harwood Heights considers residential fire sprinklers

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Harwood Heights — Requiring residential sprinkler systems is under consideration in Harwood Heights.
Trustees have yet to decide whether to adopt 2009 international building codes or amend the section pertaining to residential fire suppression/sprinkler systems.
As written, the code requires such systems in new home construction.
Up for debate in Harwood Heights is whether the village should require the system as part of remodeling projects.
Options being discussed include mandating the system if the remodeling project covers more that 25 percent of the home’s area, to only if the project increased the square-footage of the existing building, to opting out all together due to concerns over government intrusion into private property matters.
Norridge approved the code in March without amendments, said Brian Gaseor, building commissioner.
The village had some new residential construction projects going on at the time, but because the paperwork was already submitted, the builders did not have to comply with the new regulations, he explained.
Since then, the village has had one inquiry about fire suppression systems, Gaseor added.
“We haven’t heard back,” he said, “but I can’t say for sure if that (requirement) had anything to do with it.
“It could just be the economy.”
The Norwood Park Fire Department, which serves Norridge, Harwood Heights and unincorporated Norwood Park, is working with the communities, Fire Lt. Dan Johnson said.
The 2009 recommendations by the International Code Council consolidate building standards.
“It makes everything equal,” Johnson said. “We used to have pages and pages of amendments to the code.”
By adopting the 2009 codes, villages can decrease the amount of amendments designers and builders have to follow, he explained.
“And part of 2009 code is mandatory residential sprinklers,” he added.
The International Code Council is a nonprofit organization that developed the nationwide standards through input from its various trade groups.
Peg Paul, communication manager with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, said many homeowners are confused about how the system works.
“Many people think sprinklers are a separate system,” she said. “They just attach to the water main coming into house.”
The main supplies water to the system through pipes that run from the basement to the ceiling on the first floor, Paul said.
For second-floor rooms, sprinklers are often installed in sidewalls to protect against heat in the summer and cold in the winter, due to a lack of attic insulation.
The biggest obstacle the coalition faces is correcting the assumption that if one sprinkler goes off, they all do.
“That’s not the case,” Paul explained. “A sprinkler will activate only once it senses enough heat.
“It will either put out the fire or keep it small. It’s like having a firefighter in your house 24 hours a day.”
Johnson said the Norwood Park Fire Department “very much” supports residential sprinklers.
“They serve a purpose,” he said. “They keep a fire at bay, and they lessen the amount of smoke and water damage.”
Gaseor estimated a fire suppression system could add $10,000-$15,000 to the cost of construction.
Johnson acknowledged the increased cost.
“But what’s the cost of a new home?” he noted

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fire sprinklers put out hotel fire

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Fire sprinklers put out a Saturday night stove fire at a long-term hotel before fire crews arrived.
At 8:08 p.m., neighbors reported smoke coming out from under the door of Room 345 at Extended Stay America, a long-term hotel for traveling professionals at 300 N.E. 115th Ave. in Cascade Park, said Capt. Dave James with the Vancouver Fire Department.
Vancouver fire arrived at the hotel a few minutes later, where residents had been evacuated. Crews found smoke throughout the third floor. There was water, smoke and fire damage to the room, as well as water damage to the room below it.
James said the sprinkler system was able to contain the fire until the fire department got there. This is the second fire put out by a sprinkler system in the past week.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

LETTER: New Homes Need Fire Sprinklers

The writer contends that the flammability of materials used in new construction make fire sprinklers a necessity.

To the Editor,
The United States is on the brink of a fire crisis. New lightweight construction methods and materials are making it harder and more dangerous for firefighters to safely extinguish blazes and for occupants to escape safely.
It’s estimated that most homes built within the past 20 years contain these dangerous lightweight materials, which are designed to carry a greater load with less material by using prefabricated components. While these lightweight construction materials are touted as being more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, they also allow fires to spread much more rapidly, significantly reducing the time occupants have to escape a fire, and the time firefighters have to safely extinguish the blaze. In Carmel, New York tragedy struck this spring when a fire claimed four lives, spreading so quickly that the entire structure fully collapsed within 10 minutes. Firefighters attributed the quick collapse to the home’s lightweight construction materials.
Materials used in today’s home furnishings are also contributing to the accelerated pace of home fires. Newer plastic fillings in sofas, chairs, and mattresses burn much faster than older fillings like cotton, reducing the time it takes for a room to heat to 1,100 degrees and reach flashover -- the temperature point at which the heat in an area is high enough to ignite all flammable materials simultaneously. The tragic 2007 Charleston, S.C. furniture warehouse fire that took the lives of nine firefighters is a strong indication of just how dangerous these materials can be in a home during a fire.
While many states have rejected the International Code Council’s requirement for all new one- and two-family homes to include fire sprinklers, the fact remains that fire sprinkler systems would offset the danger created by lightweight construction methods and today’s synthetic furnishings, providing greater protection to building occupants and emergency first-responders.
Currently, California and Maryland are the only states that require fire sprinklers in new homes. I urge you to educate yourself on the current mandate in your own city and state and learn how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from the ravages of fire.
Properly installed and maintained fire sprinklers control and typically extinguish a fire before the fire department even arrives on the scene. More importantly, the presence of fire sprinklers mitigates the risk to individuals affected by the blaze, including firefighters who battle the fire.
Fire sprinklers are the only proactive form of fire protection, providing firefighters the time they need to do their jobs effectively and as safely as possible while helping to avoid potential injuries and devastating tragedies.
How prepared would you be if fire struck where you live? Fire sprinklers save lives and property.
Russell Fleming
President, National Fire Sprinkler Association
Patterson, NY
Related Topics: Fire SprinklersNew ConstructionOpinion, and flammability

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fire Sprinkler System Extinguishes Fire in Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Home, Further Validating Village’s Residential Fire Sprinkler Ordinance

August 22, 2012
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ORLAND PARK, Ill., Aug. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — This past weekend, a fire sprinkler system in a six-year-old home in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, contained and extinguished a kitchen fire before it was able to become destructive and possibly deadly. The fire was caused by a coffee maker that was too close to a gas stovetop, where a boiling pot of water was left unattended. The homeowners, who were in the backyard, noticed the fire and called the fire department just before a single fire sprinkler activated.
According to Village fire officials, the fire was extinguished well before fire crews even arrived on the scene. The quick-response action of the fire sprinkler kept the flames from becoming a large fire that easily could have spread throughout the entire first floor of the home and caused tens of thousands of dollars in extensive damage.
The event marks the first home fire sprinkler activation within Glen Ellyn, proving the success of the Village’s residential fire sprinkler ordinance, which was enacted over ten years ago 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. According to the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), the Village currently stands as one of 79 jurisdictions in Illinois that require residential fire sprinklers.
Tom Lia, executive director of NIFSAB, feels that the recent successful fire sprinkler activation in the newer home is tangible evidence of why residential fire sprinklers are now included in the national model fire and building codes developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council. In fact, according to the NFPA’s latest fire fatality statistics (from 2010), 85 percent of fire deaths occur in homes.
“Those elected and fire officials, who have volunteered their time and efforts to serve for the ‘Village of Volunteers,’ have done so well by recognizing the dangers of home fires and providing fire-safe housing through the adoption of Glen Ellyn’s residential fire sprinkler ordinance. Without their foresight, the recent fire unfortunately could have ended with a tragic result,” says Lia. “Congratulations to former Village President Greg Matthew and his Board who enacted the ordinance and to current Village President Mark Pfefferman and trustees who continue to understand the ordinance’s life- and property-saving value to the community.”
Please visit to see the map of Glen Ellyn and other Illinois jurisdictions that have enacted residential fire sprinkler requirements.
Current Glen Ellyn Village Board: President Mark Pfefferman; Trustees Peter Cooper, Robert Friedberg, Phil Hartweg, Carl Henninger, Peter Ladesic, Diane McGinley; and Clerk Suzanne R. Connors
About the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board
The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting progressive legislation, raising public awareness, and educating code officials and governmental policy makers by demonstrating the proven performance of fire sprinklers in saving both lives and property. For more info,
SOURCE Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board

Source: PR Newswire

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