ORLAND PARK, Ill., June 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Illinois fire protection
districts may soon have a vigorous new tool to help them encourage and
reward homeowner fire safety efforts. A bill introduced in January 2008 by
Rep. Donald L. Moffitt (R-74th) would establish a program that enables the
board of trustees of any fire protection district in the state to award
grants to single-family-homeowners when they install a fire sprinkler
system. The bill passed both House and Senate this spring and awaits the
signature of Governor Blagojevich.
"It is seldom that a new idea passes the General Assembly on the first
attempt," says Tom Harnsberger of the Illinois Association of Fire
Protection Districts (IAFPD), which recommended the concept. "This
legislation is truly ground-breaking. It's a great step in protecting
Harnsberger, who is also Treasurer of the Carroll Fire Protection
District Board of Trustees, points out that the bill will return some of
the real estate taxes a property owner pays if they take steps to reduce
the load on their district. "It will be up to each individual district to
assess the impact residential sprinklers may have on the workload of the
district and to set up the grant program that meets the needs of their
"This is outstanding work by IAFPD and our lawmakers," says Tom Lia,
the executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory
Board (NIFSAB). "They've come up with a smart way to help local
jurisdictions improve public safety by rewarding residential property
owners who make an investment in home fire sprinklers."
The bill, HB4687, was sponsored in the House by Representatives Mike
Boland (D-71st) and Michael K. Smith (D-91st), and in the Senate by Sen.
Michael W. Frerichs (D-52nd). It would be effective immediately upon
"The installation of a residential fire sprinkler system significantly
reduces the likelihood of a major fire occurring in a home," says George K.
Michehl, executive director with the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association.
"The IAFPD recognized that and, as a result, recommended the grant program
to provide some relief to those who make this life-saving decision. Nearly
80% of all fire fatalities occur in the residential setting. Why not
encourage people to install residential sprinkler systems?"
Even though homes are where the vast majority of fire deaths occur,
fire sprinkler technology is still an emerging trend in single-family
homes, Lia explains. "We know that property owners are responsive to
financial incentives and they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.
This bill will certainly encourage more homeowners to improve their
properties with fire sprinkler protection."
Importantly, the bill incorporates quality control, ensuring the
systems are installed and maintained in accordance with national standards
and certified locally.
"I believe the time has come for all new homes to be equipped with
modern fire sprinkler systems," Michehl adds. "This is a great first step
to provide the encouragement to do so."
"I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better piece of legislation than
this," Lia says. "Fire sprinklers provide the ultimate defense against
fire, protecting not just Illinois citizens but also our first responders.
This bill will lead to more fire sprinkler protection and greater safety
SOURCE Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board