Earlier this month, the Illinois Association of REALTORS® Government Affairs team discovered problems with proposed changes to the Cook County Building Code and quickly reminded officials of our opposition to mandated fire sprinklers in residential housing.
As a result, our team was assured that:
- language about mandatory fire sprinklers (in new single-family homes) will be removed from the ordinance;
- the ordinance will be given a public hearing before it is approved; and
- Cook County staff members will review ordinance changes with representatives of the IAR and Chicago Association of REALTORS® (CAR).
According to IAR Assistant Director of Government Affairs Mike Scobey, the Cook County Building and Zoning Department had been looking for ways to update the new construction building code for unincorporated areas there. During that process, the group used the 2009 International Residential Code as its model, which includes provisions for mandatory fire sprinklers in new single-family homes. An ordinance was presented at the Oct. 8 board meeting.
“The installation costs of a sprinkler system in a single-family home can range from $6,000 to $12,000,” says IAR Chief Executive Officer Gary Clayton, who adds that today’s newly constructed homes have improved safety features such as fire-retardant materials, safer heating design, safer electrical design and better planned egress. “Requiring new construction homes to include sprinkler systems would burden a still fragile home building industry and would have negative financial implications for home purchasers.”
Despite the success of new safety measures in new home construction and interconnected, hardwired smoke/fire detectors reducing injuries and fatalities in residential fires, Scobey says groups like the plumbers’ union will probably ask Cook County officials to add mandatory fire sprinklers back into the ordinance. IAR will urge Cook County Board members to oppose new sprinkler requirements. IAR was successful in 2013 in getting the State Fire Marshall to withdraw a proposed rule regarding sprinkler requirements in various types of buildings.