International Code Council Votes To Keep Residential Fire Sprinklers

Oct 30, 2009, 13:53 ET from Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board


ORLAND PARK, Ill., Oct. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Code Council's (ICC) Residential Building Code Committee voted to keep the residential fire sprinkler system requirement for one- and two-family new construction homes in the International Residential Code at the ICC hearings in Baltimore, MD this week. The requirement was in danger of being removed when the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) submitted proposals to eliminate the requirement.

The committee voted seven to four to oppose the motion to remove mandatory sprinklers from the IRC. The vote then went to the floor where more than 1,500 member voters also voted to keep the fire sprinkler mandate. The fire sprinkler requirement was originally added to the 2009 IRC last September at the ICC meeting in Minneapolis, MN.

According to Michael Schmitt, President of the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association (IFIA), it was an exciting day in fire safety history. "It was great to be surrounded by so many supporters, which was clear when the entire room cheered after the vote," Schmitt said.

"This vote also reinforces the decision that the 61 Illinois municipalities and fire districts made when they passed ordinances requiring fire sprinklers in all new homes," he added. Schmitt is also the Fire Marshal with the Long Grove Fire Protection District, the first municipality in Illinois to pass a residential fire sprinkler ordinances more than 20 years ago. Illinois is second to California, which as more than 80 municipalities with fire sprinkler ordinances.

The final action on residential fire sprinkler requirement will be voted upon at the May 2010 meeting of ICC, where only building officials and code enforcers can vote. The vote in Baltimore was an important win for residential fire safety because it will force homebuilders who oppose home fire sprinklers in the IRC to get a two-thirds vote to over-ride these sprinkler requirements at the May ICC meeting.

Fire service professionals across the country have endorsed the new sprinkler regulations, including the NFPA, U.S. Fire Administration, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and the International Association of Firefighters. These groups agree that fire sprinklers provide a level of protection that no other fire protection technology can offer. Smoke alarms are important because they provide valuable early warning in dwellings. Many high-risk populations - infants, children, people with disabilities, older adults - can have difficulty hearing and waking to smoke alarms, and difficulty reacting quickly and effectively enough for safe escape. Fire sprinklers immediately respond to a fire while it is still small, controlling the spread of deadly heat, flames and toxic smoke. Fire sprinklers also protect firefighters.

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.

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SOURCE Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board