National Buiding Safety Week Reminds of Vital Role of Fire Sprinklers

In honor of National Building Safety Week, the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB) reminds people of the vital life-safety role fire sprinklers play in keeping building occupants safe.

National Building Safety Week is an annual tribute that reinforces the important public safety role that building inspectors play throughout Illinois and across the U.S. This year the event takes place May 5-11, 2008. This year's theme is "Building Safety: Where You Live, Work and Play."

Sponsored by the International Code Council (ICC), Building Safety Week shines a national light on the importance of construction measures that protect the lives of residents, occupants and emergency responders.

"At least 60 percent of the ICC's International Building Code pertains to fire safety," said Tom Lia, NIFSAB's Executive Director. "These important provisions help protect people from fire in all types of occupancies. But unless sprinklers are required, the codes don't go far enough."

Fire sprinklers should be required routinely, regardless of a building's size. "Pinning sprinkler installation to a certain square footage minimum is outdated, and frankly an unsafe practice," Lia said. "Forward-thinking community leaders have made our state the national leader in 'zero tolerance', or zero square foot thresholds for sprinkler installation requirements. Now that is a public safety concept that makes sense. We applaud the building, fire and elected officials in the 170 communities and fire districts in Illinois who have made progressive upgrades to the model codes by moving forward zero fire tolerance."

Lia said National Building Safety Week also is a great time to recognize all the building and fire inspectors who work together to make the daily plan review and inspection decisions for the safety of the citizens.

According to Lia whether the building is a high-rise apartment or commercial, a school, hotel, strip mall or single family home, fire sprinklers save lives. The time-tested technology is recognized within the fire service and broader fire safety field as being the number-one means to suppress or control structural fire in its early stages.

"Because each sprinkler is activated by heat, a fire sprinkler stops a fire from spreading and prevents deadly flashover," Lia said. "Because the fire is contained, fire sprinklers prevent widespread property loss, which is not only good for the building owner, it's good for employees and the community's economy."

No other technology provides the level of life safety and property protection that a fire sprinkler system can and does. Building Safety Week reinforces the importance of fire safety provisions in building codes, including strong requirements for fire sprinkler system installation, testing and maintenance in every structure.

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