(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Prieto, Tim Eustace, Joseph Lagana, Angelica Jimenez, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to improve fire safety at multi-unit residential buildings, both during and after construction was approved by the full Assembly on Thursday, 43-23-6.
The bill (A-97) seeks to address fire safety issues brought to light by the major fire in Edgewater in 2015, as well as others that have occurred around the state.
“After the horrible fire that happened in Edgewater I met with many stakeholders involved in this important issue with a goal of creating a legislative solution that will address the some of the safety issues that have become apparent in large residential development in our state,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “This bill will help prevent another disaster like the ones we have seen from ever happening again.”
“We must make every effort to prevent large scale fires like the incident in Edgewater,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). “Starting with small change to the way we manage construction of multi-unit residential buildings is a good first step.”
“Changes to New Jersey’s construction codes would make a real difference in fire safety for residents and all involved in keeping them safe,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We know now that it begins with construction of homes that will protect residents from incidents like the devastating Edgewater Borough fire in 2015.”
“Specific fire safety standards should be followed when constructing multiple housing units in close proximity to one another,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We want developers to focus on safety when building these multi-dwellings and it starts with reviewing our construction codes and making the necessary changes.”
“Hundreds of families lost their homes and many were displaced as a result of the fire in Edgewater,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Slight changes to our construction codes will help to ensure something like this will be less likely to happen again.”
The bill would implement a “Fire Watch” at major residential construction sites during times when construction crews are not at work staffed by at least one dedicated person with expertise in fire safety.
The sponsors said the legislation was proposed in response to a large uncontrolled fire that occurred in January 2015 at a multiple dwelling complex in Edgewater Borough, New Jersey. The fire, which burned for several days before finally being extinguished, destroyed 240 of the 408 dwelling units and displaced over 500 residents. Another 520 residents in surrounding homes were temporarily displaced.
The bill was released by the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee on November 30. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.