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posted: 10/1/2012 5:00 AM

Fire sprinklers are a 'mandate for waste'

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Recently in Fence Post, the president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association pointed out that many states have rejected the International Code Council's requirement for fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. He urged adoption.

In 2011, the Arlington Heights village board unanimously rejected this fire sprinkler mandate. The board carefully reviewed the facts, including those in my report titled "A Mandate for Waste" and stood firm against powerful special interest groups.

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Here are some facts they considered. Most residential fire deaths are caused by careless smoking and the misuse of portable space heaters. Seemingly more than half could have been prevented with a simple smoke alarm. Also, fire deaths in code-compliant homes are so rare that you are five times more likely to die crossing a street and 37 times more likely to die from poison and falls. If you don't smoke in bed, your safety margin is much higher.

Anyone interested in the full report can contact me. My report provides the facts and shows that if safety is the objective, we could spend less and save far more lives pursuing other alternatives. It also explains why this decision is best left to homeowners.

Our "crisis" is not residential fires, it is the undue influence of powerful special interest groups like the NFSA that can hijack the Building Code.

Tonight, check the batteries in your smoke alarm and rest comfortably. The facts suggest that most firefighters' homes don't have fire sprinklers and they leave their families home alone every week. That is a clear statement about the need, especially since fire sprinklers have been a consumer option for 30 years.

Bob Ruffatto

Arlington Heights

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