Northern Illinois Leads the Nation With Fire Safety Codes Requiring Fire Sprinklers in All New Construction

The Buffalo Grove Village Board passed an ordinance requiring fire sprinkler systems in all new construction including commercial and townhomes, making it the 50th municipality in Illinois with a zero square foot minimum sprinkler ordinance.

According to the Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NIFSAB), no other state in the country has as many municipalities with the same fire safety requirements. Buffalo Grove Fire Chief Jim Sashko said he and Fire Marshal George Michael worked with the Village Administrator, his staff and the Village Board for more than 2 1/2 years to finally pass the ordinance.

"Buffalo Grove is a premiere community, so it's important that we have high standards when it comes to safety," Sashko said. "We gave our board members a lot of research and data. Everyone of them showed up when we did our side-by-side burn demonstration," he said referring to the demonstration where two furnished rooms are set up.

One is protected with a fire sprinkler. Both are set on fire to demonstrate how effectively a fire sprinkler stops the fire. Sashko said the City Square Footage List provided by NIFSAB was a very important tool because it helped them benchmark Buffalo Grove compared to other communities.

"We didn't want to slip when it came to life safety," Sashko said. "I'm extremely proud because I grew up in Buffalo Grove and spent most of my career here at the fire department," Sashko said. "This is a real milestone for me personally and for our town."

Last week Bedford Park passed a zero minimum square foot ordinance. Their ordinance requires fire sprinkler systems to be installed in all new construction including single-family homes, making Bedford Park the 28th Chicago area municipality/fire district with an NFPA 13-D single family ordinance. Bedford Park Fire Chief Sean Maloy said the Village Board was totally behind the code upgrades.

"It was unanimous. It was good to see everyone behind the ordinance. They understood that it will increase life-safety for the public and our firefighters," Maloy said. Tom Lia, NIFSAB Executive Director applauds Buffalo Grove and Bedford Park for their accomplishments.

"There is an obvious trend among Chicago area municipalities when it comes to life-safety," Lia said. "So many fire chiefs and marshals here in northern Illinois have become familiar with FEMA's 'America Burning' Report where fire sprinklers are singled out as the most effective fire loss prevention and reduction measure," he said. "It's gratifying to reach the 50 mark and see so many elected officials, village staff and members of the fire service work to make their communities safer."

NIFSAB is a non-profit organization composed of fire officials, contractors, building officials, suppliers, architects, engineers, and manufacturers. NIFSAB is dedicated to educating and informing the public and elected and appointed officials of the vital role fire sprinklers play in fire protection.

For a copy of the City Square Foot List and more information visit

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