The history of our successful company

How We Got Started

The origins of Valley Fire Protection Systems, LLC, date back to the early 1970s, when Valley Automatic Sprinklers, Inc., was organized by Mel Ihrke in Elgin, Illinois. Ihrke was a talented sprinkler fitter who operated the business very well, focusing on serving the fire protection needs of businesses located in the Fox Valley area of Chicago’s Western Suburbs. In 1978, Ihrke was approached by a group of managers from K & S Sprinklers and invited to become part of the K & S group of sprinkler companies. K & S was one of the oldest and most respected fire sprinkler contractors in the state, with operations dating back to 1929. The new Valley thrived in Elgin, and in the mid-1980s the business was relocated to West Chicago, Illinois.

The company remained in West Chicago for most of the 1990s and took full advantage of the rapidly growing east-west corridor along Interstate 88. In 1995, ownership in Valley was transferred to Barbara Hartel as part of an estate settlement relating to her deceased husband, Frank Hartel, who was 50 percent owner in the K & S group. At this time Thomas and Daniel Hartel, along with John Flynn, took over the day-to-day management of the company.

In June of 1998, as a result of the continued success of the business, the company relocated to a modern 11,000-square-foot facility at 1201 North Raddant Road in Batavia, Illinois. In April of 2001, in an effort to better diversify her finances, Mrs. Hartel sold the company to several investors, including Thomas and Daniel Hartel, John Flynn and other respected area business leaders.

Since 2001, the company has continued to grow to become one of the five largest sprinkler contractors in Chicagoland. During the past three years, Valley has expanded its service area to include all of Illinois as well as parts of Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin and even South Texas.

When the recession hit in 2008, Valley zagged while the competition was zigging by making some key acquisitions and investments. We expanded our backflow services by launching our Plumbing division, which both supplemented our existing portfolio of services and allowed us to enter the plumbing repair field for both commercial and residential customers.

In 2010 we purchased the assets of Sentinel Fire Protection, retaining the majority of its former customers. Valley purchased the assets of Old World Plumbing in 2012, retaining the Old World Name and adding its co-owners to our team.

In order to expand our large plumbing project design and installation capabilities, we purchased the assets of Arrow Plumbing and Heating in 2017, adding many talented plumbers to our team.

Valley has a lengthy list of notable clients ranging from large, multinational corporations to small sole proprietorship. In addition, many architects, consultants, developers, general contractors, insurance agents and real estate management companies depend upon the services that we provide.

Our continued growth recently necessitated a move to a new facility in June 2019 at 555 S. Kirk Rd., Suite C, St. Charles, Illinois.

Our Company Approach


To save lives and property through time-tested fire and life safety systems that our licensed professionals install and maintain


To be the best fire protection contractor through consistent delivery of superior service, value and workmanship


To meet our client’s objectives, deliver the best value and ensure total customer satisfaction


Performing with expertise and accountability. We have earned one of the finest safety performance records in our industries.


We offer superior customer service and unique expertise and we only use state-of-the-art equipment and materials

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