Huntley Summary

Huntley, Illinois is appearing in a lot of my google searches lately. I thought I’d offer a post that links to most of the articles I found. All the articles I’ve seen are from the Northwest Herald website. You can find them here, here and here. Though I do believe these links will eventually not work (as I found another article but is inaccessible behind archiving fees) they are informative and include comments from local readers/residents.

One of the commentators in the news paper linked to a forum for Huntley residents. A positive barometer for the Huntley Fire Department. However, indications of a comment left by a member of the Huntley Village Board of Trustees are that if this issue had been put to a vote the sprinkler requirement would no longer exist. The Trustee warns her fellow forum participants that the forum is not enough to get their opinions heard. She’s encouraging participation in board meetings or writing a letter if board meeting attendance is not possible.

Just reading through all the articles and the comments a vote should not be rushed and held anytime soon. The village board doesn’t even seem to be all that informed in the entire matter. That’s dangerous because the ultimate decision will be left up to them by majority vote.

Huntley Residential Sprinkler Debate

In “News Clippings” about a week ago I posted a short blip on Huntley, Illinois consideration of rescinding a sprinkler requirement in new homes adopted two years ago. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I gave this story the attention it deserves. The Village Board is considering rescinding the requirement for fire sprinklers in single family dwelling citing, none other than . . . cost.

In this article from the McHenry County Daily Herald, Conor Brown of the McHenry County Association of Realtors is quoted as saying,

‘fire sprinklers are costly, prone to malfunctioning and depress Huntley’s real estate market.'”

We’ve all heard the argument about cost. The focus of my attention on Mr. Conor’s quote is “prone to malfunctioning.” I’m elated to hear that Fire Chief Jim Saletta, “hasn’t received one complaint from residents living in the more than 1,300 Huntley homes with fire sprinklers.” Chief Saletta goes on to say that,

. . . sprinklers actually boost the value of a home, citing a 2005 Harris Interactive poll in which two-thirds of respondents said fire sprinklers increase a home’s value.”

The village Board is getting pressure from somewhere. The article finally states that the, “trustees said they needed more resident input and more information on the cost of the systems to make a decision.” Do you see what I’m getting at? Did the residents bring this to the table or did the McHenry Country Association of Realtors? I’m not an expert on city/county politics but it seems to me if the residents didn’t like the requirement they would’ve represented themselves at the meeting.

I don’t know. It’s strange to me that a requirement has been set and now, after only two years, they’re talking about amending it. Stay tuned!

P.S. Don’t blame the “depressed real estate market” on fire sprinklers.

News Clippings

Here are a couple of things I picked up off the “wire” tonight. I’m going to try this out every once-in-awhile to see how it goes. These posts will contain short descriptions of articles with a links to find them.

Restaurant owner Barry Walker got pro-active and installed a sprinkler system in his business. Now, a lawmaker is proposing tax breaks for others to do the same. “Lawmaker Wants Businesses to Install Sprinklers.” [WLTX-TV 19; Columbia, SC]

Jurisdiction considers rescinding sprinkler requirement in new homes. “Huntley May Snuff Out Fire Sprinklers.” [Daily Herald; McHenry County, Illinois]

Fire Displaces Multiple Businesses

Fire destroyed a 75 year old building in Alhambra, California. The 12,000 square foot structure contained 14 businesses and did not have sprinklers because it was built in 1932 well before any sprinkler requirements. [signonsandiego.com]

This is a perfect example of the importance of retrofits in older buildings with multiple businesses. Because of an accident in one, all 14 are now displaced looking for another home. This won’t kill the economy in a place like LA but it for sure affects those businesses and the people that make their livings working there. Unfortunately, the proverbial hands are tied. It’s up to landlords and owners to take the initiative to protect themselves.

Code Development

If you’re not familiar with the process of making changes to the codes this is a very informative article. I found it interesting that half the seats on the IRC Code Development committee are appointees of the NAHB. A couple of other interesting snippits;

The first meeting in the 18-month period was in Orlando, Fla., where the Code Development Committee considered the sprinkler proposal and recommended disapproval. The committee disapproved this proposed change to require approved automatic sprinkler systems for several reasons, it said in its published comments.

‘The issue of cold weather and freezing of the systems was a concern,’ the committee said. ‘The cost of labor to install and then maintain the system was a concern. Increase of cost and demands on local infrastructure as well. Appendix P [which references fire sprinklers as an option] is an option that is available for anyone that wishes to adopt and enforce that appendix. Any code change to bring sprinklers into the code text needs to have a provision to delete Appendix P and this proposal did not.'”

All of the above arguments seem like they can be dispelled with education and training.

The following paragraph is information that I have been trying to figure out a way to track. I would like to hear feedback from architects and builders in areas were residential sprinklers are required to find out how things are going.

One-on-one with the builders who have requested materials through our Website, they tell us, ‘I know it’s coming so I better learn about it,'” Paul said. ‘Every year more builders and architects are asking for our material. Over the last few years, I’ve had a chance to work with a number of builders around the country, like in Maryland where they have lot of sprinkler requirements, and they don’t have an issue with it at all. In Chicago, 43 communities require sprinklers in all new homes and we’re not hearing that the homes won’t sell because of cost.'”

Good Stuff. [contractormag.com]

New Sprinkler Ordinances In Tahoe

The following e-mail was forwarded to me regarding the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District (Nevada) adoption of their new sprinkler ordinances.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am the Fire Marshal for the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District located on the Nevada ’s south shore of Lake Tahoe . I’m writing you to inform you that our Fire District just adopted a new sprinkler ordinance that now requires all new buildings to be fully sprinklered. Our old ordinance was for any building 5000 square feet or bigger. In addition, any square footage added to any existing building shall be fully sprinklered. Please see attachment. This ordinance will take affect July 1, 2007.

Should you have any questions regarding our ordinance, please feel free to contact me at the numbers listed below.

Respectfully,
Rick

Rick is the Assistant Fire Chief/Fire Marshal for the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District. The image (below) is a scanned copy of the new ordinances. Click on the image for a larger view, once you have the larger view you can cursor over it and a box with arrows will show in the lower right that will allow you to expand the image further. Confused yet? I also felt I shouldn’t post Rick’s contact information without permission. Way to go Tahoe!

Copy of Ordinance