Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wheaton Could Require Fire Sprinkler Systems in New Homes Under Proposed Code Changes


Councilman John K. Rutledge discussed proposed building code changes. Credit: City of Wheaton Planning Commission video

Councilman John K. Rutledge discussed proposed building code changes. Credit: City of Wheaton Planning Commission video
A requirement for fire sprinkler systems in all new single family homes could be adopted for Wheaton residents if the city moves forward with a proposed update to its building codes, according to discussion at a Monday Wheaton City Council planning session.

Wheaton's codes have not been updated since 2003 and the city is looking to bring them up-to-date with more current 2012 ICC Building Code standards.

Most of the changes to the codes are clarifications and reflective of changes made in the past, according to the discussion at the meeting. But one of the more debatable items the ICC added as part of its 2009 code updates was requiring fire sprinklers for new single family homes, according to discussion at a Monday planning commission meet.

The Wheaton City Council is expected to further discuss the fire sprinkler code adoption during its April 7 meeting with a final vote expected at its April 21 meeting on the new building code. The city council can amend portions of the code moving forward.
In the time-being, residents can share their feedback on the proposed code changes. The city of Wheaton has more information on its website on how to do so.

Fire Sprinkler System Requirement 

Currently, 91 municipalities and fire protection districts in Illinois mandate residential sprinkler installation in some form. Twelve of those municipalities are in DuPage County, and six of them adopted their mandates since the International Residential Code required residential sprinklers in 2009. 
"The fire industry strongly advocates for residential sprinklers to protect both life and property and thereby reduce costs to homeowners, occupants, and the surrounding community," according to a Feb. 24 city of Wheaton memo. "The building industry, on the other hand, values life and property but believes that the costs of mandating the installation of sprinklers in new homes reduces the purchasing power of potential homebuyers and negatively affects developing communities." 
Depending on the data source, costs to install sprinklers in new single family structures range from $1.35 to $4.21 per sprinklered square foot, according to city documents. 
One main reason for updating the codes is to ensure the city receives a favorable grade from the Insurance Services Organization—a grade that is used by insurance agencies to determine rates for private property owners, according to city documents and discussion from the planning commission meeting. 
The city of Wheaton could receive a lower grade if it doesn't update its building codes.

Other Changes to Wheaton's Code 

Other changes proposed for Wheaton's code includes:
  • Recognize wireless technology for interconnecting smoke detectors.
  • Door between garage and dwelling unit self closing.
  • HVAC system is not permitted to serve both dwelling unit and garage
  • Makeup air for kitchen exhaust hoods with a rating greater than 400 cfm.
  • Special provisions for roof gardens and landscaped roofs.
  • Minimum floor area of 50 sq. ft. for kitchens is deleted.
  • Automatic sprinkler to be provided throughout a new building of Group M occupancy that displays or sells upholstered furniture.
  • Y2 inch gypsum board applied to the underside of floor assemblies.
  • Provisions for gray-water recycling systems. 
You can find out more about the proposed updates and share your feedback.

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