Bartlett fire officials and representatives from NIFSAB celebrate Illinois' 500th side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration. Bartlett fire officials and representatives from NIFSAB celebrate Illinois’ 500th side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration.[/caption] On Saturday, October 25, the Bartlett Fire Protection District hosted Illinois’ 500th fire sprinkler demonstration using the side-by-side concept. Hundreds of attendees viewed the demonstration at the fire district’s Fire Prevention Month open house. The side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration concept involves two similarly furnished rooms — one protected with a fire sprinkler and the other unprotected. Attendees were able to experience the quick response of fire sprinklers versus the non-sprinklered fire, which rapidly grew to flashover, the extreme temperature at which everything in the room ignited in flames. “It takes as little as three minutes for a fire to become deadly due to the synthetic furnishings and lightweight construction in today’s modern homes,” says Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB). “Hundreds of Illinois fire departments have chosen side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstrations as the most effective public education to illustrate the value of home fire sprinklers.” “Fire sprinklers, both residential and commercial, save lives. These side-by-side demonstrations are an excellent tool to educate the community and promote the installation of fire sprinklers,” says Bartlett Fire Chief Mike Falese. “The Bartlett Fire Protection District was honored to be the site of the 500th side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration and appreciates all the work NIFSAB does to support the fire service and endorse fire sprinklers.” With assistance from NIFSAB, Villa Park Fire Department’s Bill Tauchen initially developed the side-by-side fire sprinkler demonstration in 2000. The goal was to educate elected officials and community members, but it also has reached homebuilders, real estate agents and various other groups throughout the years. As NIFSAB and fire departments conducted more demonstrations, the units evolved and became mobile, reusable and easily shared between fire departments. Lia’s expertise with the demonstrations has led to him being called upon to coordinate demonstrations throughout the U.S., while his model is featured in educational materials nationwide through a FEMA grant-funded program from the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. “NIFSAB can’t take credit for this program as its success sits on the shoulders of the Illinois fire service,” says Lia. “Without the proactive home fire sprinkler educational outreach efforts of Bartlett Fire Protection District and others throughout the state, NIFSAB never would have reached this milestone or the tens of thousands of attendees.” Currently, nearly 100 Illinois communities require fire sprinklers in new construction homes.  ]]>