An investigative report by NBC Chicago highlights a battle raging in Illinois as State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis is working to update the state fire code, unchanged for the past twelve years. According to the report “the one he’s proposing is a big one: a first-ever requirement for fire sprinklers in all new single-family homes, including those built in Chicago.”
“As far as I’m concerned, everyone in Illinois deserves safe housing,” Matkaitis told NBC Chicago. “Every state fire marshal in the country is trying to do the same thing that I am, for the same reason.”
The report also focused on the “testy relationship between Matkaitis and the City of Chicago” because the city insists, under home rule authority, it doesn’t have to follow the state fire code at all. The largest sticking point: retrofitting residential high-rises with fire sprinkler systems.
“The statute applies all over the State of Illinois, whether it’s Chicago or Cairo,” Matkaitis said. “I want cooperation from everybody to save lives and property. Remember that. Save lives and property. That’s the only thing that I do.”
Interviewed for the report was NFPA President James Shannon who said; “There’s no question that residential high-rises should have sprinklers…where sprinklers are involved, the chance that somebody’s going to die in a fire in one of those buildings goes down dramatically.”
The Illinois Fire Chief’s Association has documented its support for the state fire marshals’ effort to require fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes.