Fire Sprinkler Group Says Huntley Board's Decision to Reverse Ordinance Requiring Home Fire Sprinklers a Step Backwards for Residents and Firefighters

Sep 07, 2007, 01:00 ET from Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board

    ORLAND PARK, Ill., Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The non-profit Northern
 Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) believes the Huntley
 Village Board decision to rescind an ordinance requiring residential fire
 sprinkler systems in all new single-family homes is a giant step backward
 when it comes to life-safety for its residents and firefighters.
     During a board meeting Thursday night, the Huntley Village Board voted
 4-2 to reverse the two-year-old ordinance citing the cost of installing and
 maintaining the sprinklers prevented new homes from being competitively
 priced with neighboring communities. Since the ordinance was passed, more
 than 1,300 single-family homes are protected with fire sprinklers.
     Tom Lia, NIFSAB's Executive Director who attended the meeting said the
 board members who voted to reverse the ordinance did not provide facts
 supporting the removal of the ordinance. "It was clear that these trustees
 had other motives, other than the life-safety of their residents and
 firefighters," Lia said. "Trustee Niko Kanakaris, who voted against the
 ordinance admitted that he's getting ready to start developing a six home
 subdivision in Huntley. He should have abstained his vote because of
 conflict of interest."
     According to Lia, facts about residential fire sprinkler systems
 support the trend for communities locally and nationally to pass
 residential fire sprinkler ordinances. Currently, there are 50 Chicago area
 municipalities/fire districts that require fire sprinklers. Six have passed
 their ordinances in the last year.
     "I feel for Huntley Fire Chief Jim Saletta," Lia said. "He worked hard
 to pass the ordinance two years ago and to defend it last night. More than
 50 members of the fire service from surrounding communities, many chiefs
 and marshals, attended the meeting to show their support. Not a single
 resident voiced their opposition. Even a homebuilder supported the
 sprinkler ordinance," Lia added. "It's frustrating when elected officials
 don't support their own safety leaders."
     Lia said the reversal is an embarrassment for Huntley. In addition to
 local fire officials watching the decision, many national safety
 organizations will be disappointed to hear about the ordinance reversal.
 Those organizations include the National Fire Protection Association, Home
 Safety Council and the U.S. Fire Administration.
     According to a May 2007 press release from the USFA, national support
 for residential sprinklers has been a long and important project for USFA.
     "Since 2001, then USFA Fire Administrator R. David Paulison and I have
 made it a point to endorse local sprinkler ordinances, and recruit all fire
 service leaders to embrace sprinklers in all commercial and residential
 properties," said Acting USFA Assistant Administrator Charlie Dickinson.
 "Every firefighter in this nation, running into buildings people are
 running from, knows first hand the lives smoke alarms and sprinklers are
 saving across this nation."
     According to the NFPA, most fire deaths occur in the home. Three of
 NFPA's model codes require the installation of fire sprinkler systems in
 new construction of one- and two-family homes.
     "We've already heard from dozens of fire safety experts from around the
 country who were disappointed to hear about the Huntley vote," Lia said.
 "It's sad to see a community take a progressive approach with life-safety,
 then take a giant step backwards two years later."
     NIFSAB is a non-profit organization composed of fire officials,
 contractors, building officials, suppliers, architects, engineers, and
 manufacturers. NIFSAB is dedicated to educating and informing the public
 and elected and appointed officials of the vital role that fire sprinklers
 play in fire protection.
     For more information visit

SOURCE Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board