SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation requiring dormitories at all public and private colleges and universities in Illinois to have fire sprinkler systems installed by 2013.
“Quite simply – sprinkler systems save lives,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “As parents, we shouldn’t have to worry that our college students might be killed in a dorm fire when something as simple as a sprinkler system could save their lives.”
HB 4361, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago) and Sen. Lawrence Walsh (D-Joliet), requires all colleges and universities to have a fire sprinkler system in both newly constructed and existing dorms within the next eight years.
"I thank the Governor for recognizing the positive impact this legislation will have on the safety of our college students in Illinois," said Sen. Walsh. "By setting realistic goals for installation and by providing the low-interest loans for colleges and universities to purchase the sprinkler systems, we ensure the safety of students for years to come."
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 32 college students have died in campus housing fires since 1990. While there are an average of four fires a day in collegiate housing, fire suppression technologies, such as sprinkler systems, are present in just 35% of those fires.
“Fires spread very rapidly and, unfortunately, even the quickest response by firefighters is sometimes too late to save lives in dorm fires,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal J.T. Somer. “Sprinkler systems have been in use for over 100 years and we’ve seen it proven time and time again – they can buy us extra time that can truly make the difference between life and death.”
House Bill 4361, the Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Act, also creates the Fire Sprinkler Dormitory Revolving Loan Fund, which will be jointly administered by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Illinois Finance Authority. The loan program, which is subject to appropriation, will provide low interest loans for the installation of fire sprinkler systems in dormitories.