More than 100 members of the Illinois fire and building community attended a special event at NFPA's Conference and Expo in Chicago, linking them with important information on the national push for home fire sprinklers.
The home fire sprinkler component of the event, named Illinois Fire and Building Officials Day, began with a special appearance by NFPA President Jim Pauley, who congratulated members of the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition on their efforts in obtaining sprinkler ordinances in close to 100 communities. He also presented a ceremonial $10,000 check to the coalition, one of the recipients of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative Grant. "I came here to say thank you," said Pauley. "Your advocacy work does not go unrecognized by NFPA."
Also honored at the event were more than 10 local communities who have recently adopted a sprinkler ordinance in accordance with NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes.
Furthering Illinois' commitment to the cause, Peg Paul with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) told attendees that 185 Illinois fire departments--the highest number in any state--are Built For Life Fire Departments. This program encourages all U.S. fire departments to focus on home fire sprinklers during community outreach. What's also needed is encouraging sprinkler acceptance early on in a firefighter's career, said Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board and Fire Sprinkler Initiative blogger, who hosted the event.
Lia also distributed sprinkler heads to the group, urging fire service officials to showcase these devices along with smoke alarms following home fires and during public educational outings. Using free resources from America's partnering organizations avoids reinventing the wheel, he added. "We need to be taking advantage of everything from NFPA, HFSC, and the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA)."
Highlighting the latter, NFSA's Vickie Pritchett underscored the importance of utilizing the burn survivor community for advocacy efforts. A founding member of Common Voices, an advocacy coalition dedicated to a fire-safe America, Pritchett highlighted a video of new member Jeff Jordan, who was burned in a home fire when only weeks old.
Giving a broader outlook of home fire sprinkler acceptance outside of Illinois was NFPA Regional Sprinkler Specialist Jeff Hudson, who underscored the 25 U.S. state sprinkler coalitions. This movement, he said, underscores a rising tide of support for these devices.