Elgin considers sprinkler requirement for some new construction homes
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org September 18, 2012 9:40PM
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:20AM
ELGIN — A proposed ordinance revision would require certain new homes in the city to have fire sprinkler systems installed during construction, adding as much as an average of $8,000 apiece in building costs.
The proposal is part of a city council effort to fine-tune an ordinance that would adopt the 2012 International Code Council family of building and life-safety codes and other building and life-safety codes.
At an April 25 council retreat, Fire Chief John Fahy and Community Development Director Marc Mylott suggested new home and townhome construction already in various stages of development have either a basement sprinkler system or use dimensional lumber in construction, adding $1,000 to $4,000 to the cost of each building.
Proposed developments not yet brought forward would be required to full sprinkler systems, which would add about $8,000 to building costs.
According to supporting materials presented to the council recently, basement sprinklers would be required for properties currently annexed to the city with homes having certain types of joists or trusses. Builders could get around the requirement by using half-inch drywall over the joists and trusses. No sprinklers would be required in basement areas where conventional dimensional lumber is used.
All residential structures — including one- and two-family dwellings — on properties not currently annexed to the city at the time of code adoption would have to have fire sprinkler systems installed at the time of construction.
The recommendations also contain building requirements that would provide for stronger floors and increase the time that such a floor will hold should there be a fire below it. They also contain minimum clearance requirements for floors and ceilings.
City Councilman Rich Dunne, a former Elgin fire lieutenant, said the sprinkler requirement could actually save the city and developer money in the long run in completely new developments. That’s because adding the homes to the system of pipes and hydrants could mean fewer hydrants would be needed, along with less water to put out fires, and potentially less damage to a home hit by fire, he said.
“We want to have the safest homes, while still being sensitive to the needs of developers,” Dunne said. “I think what is being proposed is an excellent compromise to that effect.”