Advocacy victory: Fire marshal withdraws from effort to mandate sprinklers

State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis, facing stiff opposition from policymakers and state residents, withdrew an effort to get a joint legislative panel to approve rules that would mandate the installation of fire sprinklers in new homes and older high-rise residential buildings.

Said Matkaitis in the article:

In the course of this process, it’s become clear that any proposed state rule needs additional refinement.

The Life Safety Code changes were filed with the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). While a JCAR hearing date had not been set, the fire marshal had planned his own public hearing in Springfield on Aug. 6. The fire marshal’s hearing has now been cancelled.

If passed, the change would have:

  • Forced all new homes to have the sprinkler systems, a measure that could have added $10,000 or more to the cost of a home. The change would have been particularly expensive for those in rural areas where water pressure guidelines might have required the drilling of additional wells.
  • Required all pre-1975 high-rise residential buildings to be retrofitted with sprinkler systems. The move would have cost millions per building in many cases, and would have forced rents and condo assessments to increase significantly.
IAR fought the sprinkler policy on behalf of its 41,000 members. IAR President Michael D. Oldenettel, CRS, GRI was poised to testify at the fire marshal’s hearing.
The sprinkler mandate was the subject of intense IAR member focus. Thousands of members answered calls to action and lobbied lawmakers, many of whom adamantly opposed the changes.
IAR was joined by many other government groups and the state’s homebuilders in the effort to stop the bill.
The issue had become so heated that town hall meetings called by state lawmakers on the were packed with residents opposed to the measure, and state Senate President John Cullerton urged Matkaitis to drop the plan in a strongly-worded letter.
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About Jon Broadbooks

Jon Broadbooks is Vice President/Communications for Illinois REALTORS®. He serves as editor of online and print content for the association's communications including the Illinois REALTOR® magazine and e-newsletters. He conducts spokesperson training seminars and oversees website development for the Association.

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