DeAngelo Bill to Require Bidders on Public Works Projects to Submit Fire Safety Information Approved by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – To prevent tragedies such as the Boland Hall fire at Seton Hall University in which three students died and 58 were injured, the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday approved legislation to require bidders on public works construction projects to submit detailed information on all fire safety features that will be included in the project.

The dormitory at Seton Hall did not have sprinklers at the time of 2000 fire, which was started by two students as a prank. New Jersey passed the country’s first mandatory dormitory sprinkler law in response to the incident later that year.

Under the new legislation (A-5200), a bidder must include detailed fire safety information in the bid documents for any construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, renovation, preservation, or improvement project for any public building or public work. If a bidder proposes an alternative technology to a sprinkler system, they must provide a written explanation of why the alternative technology should be used instead of a sprinkler system.

The measure’s sponsor, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex) released the following statement:

“Over two decades later, the Boland Hall fire continues to serve as a stark reminder of the importance of fire safety and prevention. Three students lost their lives and many more were severely injured in part because there were no fire suppression sprinkler systems in place, even though the building itself was up to code.

          “A vast majority of public buildings have sprinkler systems today. However, we must continue to be diligent in reinforcing fire safety measures in public works plans. This legislation renews our New Jersey’s commitment to fire safety by ensuring fire suppression techniques are evaluated and implemented in public works projects.”