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Views from QCA: Sprinkle in these facts


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Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2012, 6:00 am
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By Carl Burney
It appears the geniuses in Illinois government will probably mandate sprinkler systems in all new homes built in the state. Depending on who you talk to, adding a sprinkler system will add anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 to the cost of building a new home depending on it's size.

They don't talk about the cost of ongoing maintenance, repairs and damage from accidental discharges. But you can bet the plumber's union is salivating at the prospect of a new stream of revenue from yet another unfunded government mandate. But I digress.

I've been in the fire service for 16 years. It is my firm opinion that a $10,000-$15,000 sprinkler system in your home won't do anything to save your life that a couple of $10 smoke alarms won't do.

I've responded to several calls where someone was close to death due to smoke inhalation from small smoldering fires that were not even large enough to trigger a sprinkler had they had one.

I've also seen a few fatalities that were attributable as much to lack of working smoke alarms as they could have been for lack of sprinklers. In my 16 years I've also yet to see a fire that was extinguished by a sprinkler system in a business. I've been on plenty of false alarm calls though where a malfunctioning system sets off the fire alarms.

My point is, mandating expensive sprinkler systems in single-family homes just does not make any sense from a cost/risk analysis. I liken it to mandating that all speed limits be just 10 mph.

Crazy you say? Well, according to the National Fire Protection Association 2011 statistics I checked, in the entire USA, 2,105 people died in fires in single-family homes. By comparison, 918 people died in Illinois alone due to traffic accidents. So, why not 10 mph speed limits that will virtually eliminate all traffic accident deaths, saving 10 times as many lives as mandated sprinklers?

There are risks in life. Risks we accept when we get behind the wheel and drive whatever speed we drive. Risks we accept every time we spend that $10 on something far less important than that needed smoke alarm or fresh batteries for the one you already have.

I don't have a sprinkler system in my home. That is a risk I'm willing to accept because the fact is the odds of my home ever having a fire are quite small, and if I do, my smoke alarm will alert me and I'll be out long before I have to worry about burning to death.

]I find it quite ironic that I've yet to talk to any sprinkler law advocate who already has shelled out the bucks for a system in their own home. I call them hypocrites. If they truly believed in sprinklers they wouldn't need a law forcing them to install them nor would they want it mandated for anyone else.

Working smoke detectors are the single best way for you to be saved from a fire in your home. Multiple egress routes out of your home should also always be a part of your escape plan.

Sprinklers? Not so much. Buy them if you want them. Don't mandate them.
Carl Burney of Silvis, is a longtime firefighter.
















 



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  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






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