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Locals React to New Flossmoor Building Codes

A series of new building codes were implemented during last Monday's Flossmoor Village Board meeting, but one of them in particular has been generating some controversy.

A minor tiff broke out during Monday night's meeting over the implementation of new building codes—specifically the requirement of all new residential construction to include a sprinkler system.

The cost of doing so is estimated to be an extra $2 per square foot, according to Flossmoor Assistant Fire Chief Keith Damm. Damm compared this to the price of home flooring at $4 per square foot.

Additionally, Damm mentioned that fire sprinklers statistically save 80 percent of people in a fire.

Trustees Minga and Mitros disagreed over the right of the village to set such a requirement. Mitros' concern over the price of requiring sprinkler systems in all new homes was met with Minga's conviction that making a decision for the safety of residents is concurrent with the village's mission.

The argument carried over to our Facebook page. Here's what some of our readers think:

  • Justin Wills:"You want to keep the prestige of Flossmoor and keep home prices high? Make the sacrifice."
  • Caitlin Archer-Helke:"The sprinkler requirement makes a LOT of sense, from a safety standpoint."
  • Heidi Hawkins Gardiner:"Sorry that's nuts!!! Really??? How many fires has there been, that this is necessary???"
  • Steve Burke:"I'd put one in if I were building new. My family's worth the premium."
  • Jessica Plummer O'Malley:"Yes, it is the perfect time to discourage people from building residential property in Flossmoor. They've done all they can to discourage any business that's not a medical facility, so it just makes sense to move on to something new. For someone who really values sprinklers, they could have them installed without it being a village code."
  • Rick Thomas: "The home builders’ association estimates the cost to install a sprinkler system in a roughly 2,200-square-foot home at $5,573. When factoring in financing costs it comes in around $6700."
Nancy Knox March 23, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Having had a fire 7 years ago, i wish we would have had sprinklers in the home. Maybe then i would still have the old house i bought with the low taxes rather than this nice new one I built with taxes through the roof and no value in it any more. i have to say, the fire department did an awesome job and were at the house quickly. They acted swiftly and treated my belongings with care. i truly appreciate the Flossmoor fire department but the sprinklers would really help them and the homeowner if in fact a tragedy such as a fire occurred. i am all for it. Fires are horrible and you never quite get over the event.
Dustin Decker March 23, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I have to ask.... did you install a sprinkler system in your new home you built?
Nancy Knox March 23, 2012 at 02:31 PM
No, I didn't even think about it honestly. I wish I did though. Just for the peace of mind. We were not at home when our fire started and had our alert neighbors not noticed the flame in the back of the house, my family could have lost everything. You cannot rely solely on your neighbors either. I did, however, follow code at the time I built the house and put in the wired smoke detectors. Fires are awful
engage your brain March 23, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Dear Mr Fitzpatrick - the picture included with your article is laughable. It is a commercial/industrial sprinkler that is at least 30 years old. It shows an open orifice because the fusible element is not present. I'm not sure if its bad journalism or if you have an agenda. If the intent is to show your readers what a residential sprinkler looks like when installed, there are plenty of materials on the internet that can be accessed in a matter of minutes. Do your job! For the commenters, fire protection in the community involves a minimum level of performance at the best long term cost. You can accomplish this with ever escalating facilities, equipment and personnel or you can institute policies that will minimize long term cost by building a certain level of fire protection into the community at an essentially fixed cost, and augment it with a much more cost controllable fire service brigade. Try thinking past next week when considering such possibilities.
Mark March 23, 2012 at 04:53 PM
In my experience in a fair number of commercial buildings I've had a lot more damage from sprinklers that went off improperly than from fires that got out of control. One study I saw placed the damage from a broken sprinkler head at $1,000 per minute until the water can be turned off. Oh, $1,000 per minute PER FLOOR so in a high rise building on the 30th floor that's $30,000 per minute. This gets sold by the fire protection people as about savings lives but it really doesn't look like that to me. Smoke detectors give people plenty of time to exit. So sprinklers are about saving property. But given the numbers above its not clear to me that that works either-- bottom line, that's what they make insurance for.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Editor) March 23, 2012 at 06:37 PM
The intent is to show a visual that's relevant to the story. Since the article is about fire sprinklers, I decided to include a photo of a fire sprinkler (one that I have the legal right to use). By no means are we making commentary on the particular types of units that could be installed.
Flossmoor Family March 23, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I agree with Mark, I have witnessed the terrible damage that can occur when a sprinkler system is activated either by a fire or by accident in commercial/industrial buildings. Most times it has been by accident. Sometimes the water damage is as severe as fire the damage. If not properly installed or maintained, sprinklers can fail to activate during a fire just as a smoke detector would with a dead battery. The sprinkler system is also susceptible to the supply pipe bursting from freezing just as it is in any copper plumbing in your home. I think most home owners can relate to this kind of mess. Sprinkler systems have more than twice the amount of static water-pressure (40-70 PSI) and volume than has ordinary domestic plumbing. Fire-rated CPVC piping is a brittle material and violently cracks open from the expanding ice. PVC is not allowed by code here in domestic water supplies. Let this happen once and you’ll find the homeowner saying "The sprinkler system valve shall remain in the closed position!" It just seems like an expensive “building addition” for the homeowner and another administrative enforcement task that has been added to our village’s ever growing list. The bottom line…working smoke detectors save lives.
Russ Bensley March 25, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I don't live in Flossmoor (I'm in Homewood) but it seems to me that a town that can ban you from parking a pickup truck on your own property can probably get away with almost anything!
Ernie Souchak March 26, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Welcome to the Peoples Republic of Flossmoor.
Mark March 26, 2012 at 01:58 PM
So which sprinkler company do you work for "Engage"?
jim gott May 20, 2013 at 09:16 PM
I am moving to Nashville Tn. and one of the towns we were considering required a sprinkler system I think it s a solid and safe idea. The two primary of goals of city or local government is to serve and protect.

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