The Gloucester County Board of Freeholders joined their fellow Freeholder boards in Hudson, Camden, Middlesex and Essex Counties to endorse statewide legislation that would amend New Jersey’s construction code for fire safety reasons, and provide an added level of protection for firefighters and residents alike.
The adopted resolution supports Assembly Bill 135 and Senate Bill 1261, legislation that calls for the installation of an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with NFPA 13, measuring the number of stories from the grade plane, using noncombustible materials for construction, and installing a fire barrier with a fire resistance rating of at least two hours that extends from the foundation to the roof.
“All across New Jersey, local lawmakers are calling on their statewide counterparts to institute fire safeguards in mid-rise housing throughout the state,” says Kevin Lawlor, spokesperson for Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association consisting of community organizations, fire service professionals, engineers, architects and industry experts. “Just like the construction process, building support for communal issues requires a strong foundation. And now with six counties in support of this legislation, and more on the way, the New Jersey State Legislature should not hesitate in adopting these bills.”
The impetus behind this effort is not without cause.
In late December, firefighters responded to a fire at a wood-framed apartment complex in Princeton, New Jersey, that resulted in the death of a 73-year-old resident and the displacement of 35 others. The incident came after a pair of massive fires in the state in buildings constructed with combustible materials over the past couple years – namely in Maplewood and Edgewater. There have been dozens of fires of a similar nature throughout the country over the last several few years.
A September 2016 poll of 400 registered voters in New Jersey found respondents very supportive of the state making changes to building codes following the devastating Edgewater apartment complex fire in January 2015.
Local New Jersey coalition members of Build with Strength include: The New Jersey State Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association, The Professional Association of Fire Fighters in New Jersey, the New Jersey State Association of County Fire Marshals, the Brigantine Beach Fire Company; the Bricklayers and Allied Crafts – New Jersey, and the Fire Departments of Burlington County and West Orange.
Learn more at www.buildwithstrength.com.