(April 25, 2019) – In Indiana, one of the new state laws signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2018 prohibits state and local lawmakers from requiring fire sprinklers in single-family homes, duplexes, and townhomes (SEA 393). If that sounds counter-intuitive to public safety, know that this high-level opposition to progressive home fire protection codes isn’t restricted to Indiana. Fire safety advocates are dealing with the same thing all across the U.S. With some $517 million spent by the housing industry on political contributions and lobbying (ProPublica 2016), fire sprinkler codes have been banned in 25 states.
As NIFSAB and the fire service emphatically call out this sort of opposition to life-saving sprinkler requirements, there is fortunately another way to achieve the ultimate protection. That’s the path that Matthew Timmer took when he moved his family into their second home in Lake County, IN.
As the son of a fire chief, Bill Timmer, in neighboring Highland, Timmer knows the importance of fire safety, and he wants the best protection for his family. Having already lived in a sprinklered home, he knew he’d only get true peace of mind if their next house was also protected.
In 2015, Timmer’s new-construction house was the first in Lake County to have fire sprinklers installed. So, when he and his family moved, Timmer reached out to NIFSAB for assistance. NIFSAB’s Executive Director Tom Lia, who calls Timmer “one of Indiana’s fire safety standouts,” pulled out all the stops. With help from State Line Fire Systems, Sprinkler Fitters Local 281, and 281’s Business Agent George Marcinak, NIFSAB donated a tank and pump, and an NFPA 13D system was successfully installed in Timmer’s family home.
“Thank you,” Timmer says. “Hopefully it will remain in standby mode it’s whole life, but we can rest assured that it will be ready if needed.” In commending State Line Fire Systems and Local 281, Timmer adds, “George is a great advocate for the safety of fire sprinklers and has especially helped me out with plans, materials, and labor to complete our project. This whole job could not have been completed without Local 281’s hard-working men and women. Their superior workmanship and dedication to a fire safe house was obvious throughout the project.”
An avowed advocate for residential fire sprinklers, Timmer says he will be forever grateful for the assistance he received from NIFSAB and the others. “I truly do not believe I could live in a house that is not fire sprinkler protected,” he concludes.
Lia said we needed someone to carry the flag in Indiana while it is under the siege of the fire sprinkler ban. “We commend the father and son fire safety team of Fire Chief Bill Timmer, his son Matt Timmer and family, to keep the message alive until Indiana can be free from backward thinking fire code bans.”
So, if you’re reading this in a state like Indiana where lawmakers have blocked home fire sprinkler requirements, take heart. There are other paths to public safety while advocates wait for the pendulum to swing back to common sense codes.
This entry was posted on April 25, 2019 at 5:56 pm and is filed under 2019 – Issue 3. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.