More than a month after the Deerfield Village Board considered a change to its building code, the board voted 4-2 against a requirement for fire sprinklers in all new construction for single-family homes.
Trustees Alan Farkas, Barbara Struthers, Tom Jester and Bob Benton voted against the sprinkler mandate, while Bill Seiden and Robert Nadler voted for the mandate.
The Oct. 6 vote came as a relief to Howard Handler, IAR Government Affairs Director for the North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS®, who had addressed the board about the topic at its September meeting, advocating for homeowner choice. At the first meeting, Handler explained sprinklers would increase construction costs and put a strain on an industry still working to recover.
“I think the pendulum is shifting on this issue,” says Handler. “More and more, municipal officials are rejecting sprinkler mandates because the debate is now moving from emotion to facts, and the facts are prevailing.”
The turning point of the conversation about sprinklers at the October meeting came when a Deerfield trustee asked several advocates if they had sprinklers in their homes. All four members of the Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Protection District, including the chief, admitted they did not have sprinklers.
Handler gave credit to the members of the Deerfield Village Board for listening to the concerns of homeowners, REALTORS® and advocates of sprinklers. He said a Canadian government study showed that even if cut in half, the estimated costs of a sprinkler system in a new home would outweigh the benefits.
“It is for these reasons, and more,” says Handler, “that most Illinois municipalities have not adopted a fire sprinkler mandate, and that even some municipalities, like Huntley, have rescinded their ordinances mandating sprinklers.”