Tom Lia talks about Illinois' success with home fire sprinkler ordinances

Guest blogger Tom Lia talks about Illinois' success with home fire sprinkler ordinances at the community level

Tom Lia The Illinois fire service prides itself on member education at all levels and ranks. Thanks to education about residential fire sprinkler technology and codes, Illinois now has 79 municipalities and fire districts with residential fire sprinkler ordinances, which include one- and two-family homes, following the NFPA 13D standard.


The vast majority of jurisdictions that have adopted home fire sprinkler requirements in Illinois utilized custom-made code language and amendments, much of which they incorporated from information exchanges with fellow fire chiefs and fire marshals who had seen success. This type of networking between fire officials became more prevalent with the creation of the NFPA 13D summit in the state, which included all major fire service organizations and other stakeholders.

In recent years, the rationale for home fire sprinkler requirements has changed as fire chiefs can point to the consensus code process to defend their efforts to adopt the model codes as they stand. All national model codes now require fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family home construction.

Through all this, it has become evident that what is most necessary to pass a home fire sprinkler requirement is a truly dedicated and passionate fire chief or fire marshal who desires to make the passage of a 13D ordinance his or her long-lasting legacy of fire defense within the community. This passion and desire for fire sprinkler protection should be reflected throughout every aspect of the fire department's outreach. These include; open houses, fire sprinkler messages on fire station signs, on
websites or Facebook pages, and featured on YouTube videos and newsletters. Fire sprinkler trailer and side-by-side demonstrations and participation in the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition's Built for Life Fire Department Program have worked well. Informative packets for local municipal officials are also important.

For the chiefs who previously fought this battle alone in their own communities, they can now call on the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board and resources of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Fire Protection Research Foundation. If the going gets tough, the fire chief can rest assured that NFPA is in the fight for the long haul, evidenced by NFPA's own summit in Rosemont, Illinois in April, where President Shannon reaffirmed NFPA's commitment to supporting the issue.

Tom Lia is Executive Director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board.

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Tags:  NFPA, home fire sprinkler, residential fire sprinkler ordinance, Illinois home fire sprinklers, Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board