Bill Would Require Fire Suppression Systems in New Single and Two-family Homes
In 2016, 53 people in New Jersey loss their lives in a fire and another 239 sustained injuries from deadly blazes. Legislation sponsored by Assembly democrats Annette Quijano, Joe Danielsen and Annette Chaparro hopes to prevent such deaths and injuries as part of the “New Home Fire Safety Act.” The measure cleared the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee Thursday.
“In a fire, rooms can become death traps in minutes,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). “If your home is equipped with a sprinkler, however, it will increase the time you have to escape and limit the total amount of damage to your property.”
The New Fire Safety Act (bill A-3974) would require fire suppression systems, a type of sprinkler system, to be installed in new single and two-family homes during their construction. The bill is not applicable to manufactured homes or single and two-family homes not connected to water systems. As reported by the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety, there were 31,944 fires reported in 2016, with 18,623 of those involving structures. More than 70 percent of the structure fires occurred in residential homes of which 66 percent were two family dwellings.
An example of how quickly such fires can spread without sprinkler systems can be viewed in a video demonstration performed by the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua2fqQY-AxQ&feature=youtu.be
“This bill has the potential to save residents and help our firefighters who put their lives on the line each time they go into a fire,” said Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (Middlesex, Somerset). “That alone makes this a crucial legislative effort.”
Fire suppression systems extinguish or prevent the spread of a fire by using a combination of dry chemicals and/or wet agents to suppress equipment fires. These systems are designed to quickly and effectively battle indoor fires. When a fire is not contained quickly, it triggers a lethal cycle that threatens the lives of occupants and the structural safety of the building. These systems are designed to eliminate or control the heat source.
The bill also stipulates that a certificate of occupancy for a new home could not be issued until the state or local code enforcement agency certified that the home was equipped with a fire suppression system that complied with New Jersey’s Uniform Construction Code standards. Additional bill highlights include a provision whereby municipalities and the Commission of Community Affairs could establish a fee to cover the cost of inspections and issuance of the certificate of occupancy.
“The goal here is to help keep families safe,” said Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-Hudson). “If we can help prevent a fire from spreading by suppressing it, we can decrease the likelihood of loss lives.”
The bill was introduced in the Assembly on May 17, 2018 and referred to the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. The measure now heads to the full assembly for further review.