Left to right: NIFSAB Executive Director Tom Lia, United States Alliance Fire Protection’s Matt Campbell, Palatine Rural Fire Chief Hank Clemmensen and Deputy Chief Rich May stand in front of the newly fire sprinklered Palatine Rural Fire Protection District firehouse.[/caption] When the 14,000-square foot Palatine Rural Fire Protection District’s firehouse was built in 1999, it only featured fire sprinklers in the basement where a training room, workout room and storage area are located. The first floor of the firehouse, which includes a large three-apparatus bay, offices, and sleeping/living quarters for seven personnel, stood unprotected from fires. That is no longer the case, however, after Fire Chief Hank Clemmensen recently coordinated a fire sprinkler retrofit of the remainder of the firehouse. Clemmensen searched for alternative funding options for the project and was able to obtain an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Palatine Rural Fire Protection District is not the first fire department/district to take advantage of AFGs to retrofit a firehouse. Other fire departments that have completed firehouse retrofits with FEMA grants include Bridgeview, Clarendon Hills, La Grange Park, Manteno Community FPD, Roberts Park FPD and Wheeling, among others. According to Clemmensen, when the initial AFG was awarded to the fire district, it was less than the fire district’s request.  However, Clemmensen renegotiated with the AFG office, noting that the additional funds were needed for special circumstances, since the firehouse operates off of a well and would need a tank and pump system for proper pressure. He was successful and convinced them to increase the grant amount in order to complete the project. [caption id="attachment_3413" align="alignright" width="346"] Palatine Rural Fire Chief Clemmensen, alongside Deputy Chief May, accepts a recognition plaque from NIFSAB Executive Director Tom Lia (alongside United States Alliance Fire Protection’s Matt Campbell) for retrofitting the Palatine Rural FPD firehouse with fire sprinklers.[/caption] “We’re very thankful for the fire sprinkler and tank contractors who helped us greatly with making the system work within our budget,” says Clemmensen. The project began with United States Alliance Fire Protection (USAFP) installing the NFPA 13-compliant fire sprinkler system, which was overseen by USAFP’s Matt Campbell. The retrofit process was made easier because the installing contractors were able to store and fabricate the materials in a portion of the 5,000-square-foot apparatus bay. In addition, the drop-ceiling on the first floor of the firehouse allowed for quick installation and easily hid the system. “The retrofit occurred with little to no disruption to operations in the building because the installers were very conscientious and accomodating,” says Deputy Chief Rich May. May was the acting chief and oversaw parts of the retrofit as Chief Clemmensen spent time in Washington D.C. to fulfill his obligation as president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) from 2012 to 2013. David Whitfield, president of tank and pump supplier S-P-D Incorporated, and his company finished installation of the full fire sprinkler system by incorporating a fire pump and storage tank system to supply the proper pressure to the system. “The toughest portion of the project was finding the proper water storage tank system, but we found the right fit for our needs and now have a fully sprinklered building that protects our most valuable asset — our personnel. The other benefit is that it protects the building and our equipment, all of which is very expensive and belongs to the fire district’s residents. By protecting the building and equipment, it allows us to respond to emergencies in our fire district. The entire project provides a model of fire safety for the communities that we serve,” notes Chief Clemmensen. In fact, the fire district’s ordinances also promote the safety that comes with fire sprinklers. The fire district calls for fire sprinklers in all new structures, whether commercial or residential, while the Village of Inverness, which the fire district serves, requires fire sprinklers in larger homes. “With the retrofit, Chief Clemmensen not only provided an example within his community, but also at the national level at a time when the entire U.S. fire service stood behind him as president of the IAFC,” says Tom Lia, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. Lia adds that Clemmensen has now completed his presidency with IAFC after having hosted the nation’s leading fire service officials at the Fire-Rescue International conference in Chicago from August 13th-17th. “We congratulate Chief Clemmensen for his hard work while in the national spotlight of the fire service,” says Lia. “The Illinois fire service and fire safety advocates are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to seeing his continued fire safety efforts here in Illinois.” Clemmensen also recently participated in a 30-second fire sprinkler public service announcement for television that can be adapted for fire departments nationwide.  ]]>