illinois-fire-sprinkler-coalitionLast year, Illinois experienced 104 civilian residential fire deaths. According to the United States Fire Administration, this was an increase of over 9 percent from both 2012 and 2013. Also, 2015 is off to a poor start with eight deaths to date. Fire safety advocates say there’s already a solution to preventing residential fire deaths. “Our state continues to average 100 civilian fire deaths each year, but the reality is that fire sprinklers can prevent these needless deaths,” says Bartlett Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Mike Figolah, who is an advocate for the Illinois Fire Sprinkler Coalition. “A fire sprinkler puts water on a fire while it is still small, which keeps it from spreading and allows residents to safely escape.” Fire sprinklers are more important than ever in today’s modern homes and that’s why they are present in current national model codes. According to recent research from Underwriters Laboratories and the National Institute of Standards & Technology, new homes present many unique fire hazards. When exposed to fire, the lightweight materials that are present in newer homes, such as engineered floor systems, along with open construction designs can create more dangerous conditions faster and fail sooner compared to older dimensional lumber systems. Airtight construction and energy-conserving building materials such as double-glazed (vinyl) windows, synthetic insulation materials and foam sheathing can make for faster-spreading fires. Also, contents of homes — polyurethane foam-filled furniture and other synthetic objects such as carpet and electronics — can cause flashover and billowing, poisonous smoke. “Ninety-two percent of structural fire deaths occur in homes where people believe they are safest. Yet when a home is built without fire sprinklers, countless generations lose out on the best fire protection available,” says Figolah. Currently, nearly 100 Illinois communities require fire sprinklers in new construction one- and two-family homes, but thousands of residences throughout the state continue to be built without fire sprinkler protection. “Our goal is to educate the public about fire sprinklers so they know fire sprinklers are an option in homes and they understand the life- and property-saving benefits fire sprinklers provide. In doing so, we can begin reducing the lives lost to fire in Illinois,” adds Figolah.  ]]>