SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Fire sprinklers save lives, and soon it may be cheaper to add one to a home in Illinois.
A bill being pushed by the National Fire Sprinkler Association would let homeowners who add a fire sprinkler to their house be reimbursed half of the cost of the system on their state income taxes, up to $10,000. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) and Sen. Rob Martwick (D-Chicago).
NSFA officials estimate the median cost for a home sprinkler system is $7,200, which would leave the state responsible for $3,600 per unit under the proposed bill.
Officials from the organization argue the fire sprinklers save lives. Since 2007, no one in the U.S. has died from a residential fire in a building with a sprinkler system, compared to 967 fatalities in homes without fire sprinklers.
“The main goal of it all is to save lives,” James Brown, the Illinois coordinator for the NSFA, said.
According to Erik Hoffer, executive director of the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, 110 municipalities in northern Illinois are required to include fire sprinklers in all new homes.
Fire sprinklers also make it much safer for firefighters and other first responders to respond to fires. With more synthetic and petroleum-based materials in houses, experts said most furniture can light on fire much more quickly.
“When they burn, they’re burning very hot, they’re burning very toxic,” Hoffer said. “They’re putting gases into the air and then the air ignites on fire.”
Fire Sprinklers in Action
To illustrate how effective home fire sprinklers are, the NSFA hosted a trailer demonstration outside of the capitol Wednesday morning with the help of the Springfield fire department. Two simulated rooms were set ablaze: one with a fire sprinkler, one without.
The room without the sprinklers was engulfed in flames in under 90 seconds. The fire was continuing to grow so fast it experienced a flashover, because every combustible surface is on fire.
“If you’re in that room, you will not survive that flashover,” Brown said.
He also pointed out in most circumstances, firefighters would yet to be on the scene by the time of the flashover.
“When a fire starts, it takes about 30 seconds to a minute for a smoke detector to go off,” Brown said. “Fire doubles every minute now. After that minute, then you call 911. That dispatcher has one minute to dispatch the call. We’re already two minutes into it.”
Meanwhile, the one with the fire sprinklers had the sprinklers activate within 30 seconds. The sprinklers extinguished the fire without any help from the firefighters.
“Everything is wet, but it’s not going to be burnt,” Hoffer said. “You can fix wet but not burnt.”