On May 15, 2016, a fire sprinkler controlled a fire in the garage of a four-unit townhome on Blue Springs Drive in Fox Lake, allowing the residents to escape unharmed.

According to Fox Lake Fire Protection District fire officials, the fire sprinkler system prevented the fire from spreading to inside the residence and the three other attached units.

Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), says this sprinkler save is an example of why national model building and fire codes include fire sprinkler protection in townhomes and other multifamily buildings.

“Townhomes share common walls and rooflines that can allow a fire to easily spread from one living unit to another. One neighbor’s fire easily can become a problem for adjoining neighbors,” says Lia. “However, when fire sprinklers are installed, as they were in this case, fires are not able to spread and lives and property are saved.

According to NIFSAB, there are more than 120 Illinois communities that currently require fire sprinklers to be installed in the construction of new townhomes.

“Communities that ignore the national model codes, which have contained fire sprinkler provisions for the three code cycles, or nine years, are allowing substandard residences to be built that will be much less safe for residents and responding firefighters if fires occur,” adds Lia.