Fire Chief Dean Maggos helped develop one of Chicagoland’s first side-by-side fire and sprinkler demonstrations, and it’s evident his passion for home fire sprinklers has only intensified over the years.
As fire chief and building department director for the Village of La Grange Park in Illinois, Maggos has presided over the completion of 61 teardown-and-rebuild projects and single-family-home retrofits featuring installation in accordance with NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes. With Maggos at the helm, the La Grange Park Fire Department has also conducted live fire/sprinkler demonstrations at its annual open house every year since 2001.
This education has paid off; in 2003, La Grange Park became the 13th community in Illinois to pass a sprinkler ordinance. (One-hundred communities in Illinois now have sprinkler ordinances.) The ordinance ensures that LaGrange has greatly increased the safety of both residents and firefighters.
Maggos has become a vocal sprinkler advocate, sharing his knowledge and experience with other fire officials through written articles and participation in Illinois fire service organizations. (In addition to his 13-year tenure with the La Grange Park Fire Department, Maggos has served as a fire investigator/inspector, deputy chief, and fire marshal with three other fire departments over the course of 28 years.) In 2009, Maggos worked with the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) to conduct a live TV sprinkler demonstration for the CBS Early Show. A local home that was scheduled for fire training and demolition was used to showcase fire sprinkler protection. In contrast, prerecorded footage from a home in Brentwood, Tennessee, showed a flashover scenario. Maggos spoke with home improvement expert Danny Lipford on air (click on the link, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for this video) about the benefits of fire sprinklers as they stood in a room where a Christmas tree fire was simulated and the sprinkler system had activated.
Moreover, Maggos has developed a good rapport with Chicagoland’s building department associations while serving as LaGrange Park’s building department director. There have been fruitful fire safety discussions and ideas exchanged within these groups.
As for advice, Maggos offers these pearls of wisdom: “In addition to working to get codes passed and fire sprinklers installed in new buildings, the fire service should take steps to salvage and reduce water damage. Make sure your basic equipment includes a variety of sprinkler flow stoppers. Make sure firefighters are trained in the most appropriate methods to stop or reduce water flow depending upon the type of system, such as using local control valves, shutting down fire pumps if necessary, and using a main or auxiliary drain to reduce pressure and flow from an activated sprinkler or damaged piping.”
Chief Maggos should be commended for using HFSC and Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources, sprinkler demonstration trailers, side-by-side demos, and homes showcasing sprinkler operation. His concern for the people he serves is ingrained, and that concern is reflected in his ability to use every means possible to support and defend the hard-fought residential ordinance.
This post was written by Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting legislation, raising public awareness, and educating code officials and government policymakers on home fire sprinklers. Lia regularly offers his perspective on sprinkler activities taking place in his state and elsewhere.