What you need to know about the Fire Sprinkler Mandate

A rewrite of the state's Life Safety Code could hurt Illinois homeowners and renters

UPDATE: Victory! REALTORS® stop a mandate that would cost Illinois homebuyers millions by requiring installation of fire sprinklers in new residential construction and in older apartment and condo buildings. RVOICE research has shown that sprinkler system mandates drive up the cost of homeownership and are unpopular with owners who would prefer to make their own decision on the issue. Thousands of IAR's members answered a call for action, and the association launched a website, Nosprinklermandate.com.

The state legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) was considering a series of onerous requirements for new homes built in Illinois that will impact how people like you do business. The new rules would have forced buyers to install costly fire sprinkler systems in all newly-constructed homes, adding thousands of dollars in costs to an already-expensive process. There were also onerous retrofit mandates for high rise residential buildings which will result in significant assessments for property owners and managers resulting in high assessments on condominium owners and rent increases for renters.

Impact report
on the issue

How the costs quickly add up

IAR compiled a report that oulined the impact on the state's residents, particularly when it comes to the cost of installing fire sprinkler systems in new homes.

How will this rule change affect all?

8 reasons policy makes no sense

There are many arguments against implementing a Fire Sprinkler Mandate. IAR prepared a list including the millions of dollars it would cost to retrofit apartment and condominium buildings to meet the new standards.

Tell officials this is a bad idea

Make REALTOR® voice heard

Several state agencies heard comments from those in opposition to the rule changes.

State Fire Marshal feedback info

DCEO small business impact reporting

JCAR contact lists

The economic toll at a glance: How the code change will hurt Illinois

  • The cost of a new home could increase by $10,000 or more depending on size. Assessments might climb, inspection fees might add up and there would be maintenance costs over time.

  • Owners of apartment and condo buildings might have to pay millions to install sprinkler systems in older buildings. These buildings already meet tough dire standards, and over the years owners have put millions of dollars toward making residents safer. Where will the cost increases go? Owners have no choice but to pass on the costs, or if they can't afford the work shut down the complexes. That would be a dire move for both residents and communities interested in transforming older housing stock into vibrant living space.

  • Rural areas struggle with jobs and quality housing. The new mandate, if passed, would force those building homes in rural areas to install not only the system, but also it is possible they would have to dig an additional well to meet water flow requirements.

  • Illinois gets tagged as being a difficult place in which to work and live. Does adding more costs and regulations seem to make sense when other states are all too ready to swoop in and steal firms away based on this reputation?

Did you know? Fire death statistics and how they changed over the years

  • Residential fire deaths have already plummeted over the past 30 years, from 6,015 deaths in 1978 to 2,520 in 2011. Why the decrease? Better construction, less flammable construction and interior design materials, better education and even self-extinguishing cigarettes play a huge role in the decrease.

  • You are less likely to die in a fire in Illinois than many other states, according to FEMA. In fact, Illinois residents are less likely to die in a fire than the general population of the U.S. Illinois outpaces most of its Midwestern neighbors when it comes to having low fire death rates.

  • Smoking-related fires in residences accounted for two percent of all fires, but 14 percent of fire deaths. And smoking is the leading cause of fire death. Cooking is the leading cause of residential fires, and 94 percent were small, confined fires.

  • Fewer than five percent of calls for firefighter assistance in Illinois so far in 2013 are for fires. The majority of firefighter respnses are for medical assistance, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.