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Wisniewski Introduces Bill to Require Installation of Sprinkler Systems in New Townhouses

Original Legislation Revised to Incorporate Governor’s Recommendations after Previous Veto

Assemblyman John Wisniewski has introduced legislation to require the installation of sprinklers in newly-constructed townhouses in an effort to save lives and limit property damage in case of a fire.

“Townhouses are in such close proximity to one another that a fire can begin in one townhouse and very quickly spread to adjacent homes,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), chair of the New Jersey Fire Safety Commission. “This is a public safety issue. A simple one-time fire suppression system installation can offer peace of mind to townhouse residents and keep New Jersey families safe if there’s ever an emergency.”

The bill (A-4517), to be known as the “New Townhouse Fire Safety Act,” would require the installation of fire suppression systems in new townhouses.

Wisniewski previously proposed a similar measure, which the governor vetoed in 2015. That bill would have required fire suppression systems in all new home construction. At the time, Gov. Chris Christie cited his concern that New Jersey residents rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy would be burdened by the cost of installing sprinklers at a time when many victims still struggle to make ends meet. The new bill would allow homeowners in Sandy-impacted counties to petition the Department of Community Affairs for relief from the requirement.

Upon vetoing the previous legislation, the governor also noted his belief that requiring sprinklers in all new homes without regard for the unique needs of each individual structure is unwarranted. The new bill limits the requirement to newly-constructed townhouses.

“Fire suppression systems can save lives, limit property damage and reduce insurance costs in all types of homes, but the governor did present some valid concerns,” said Wisniewski. “Keeping the people of New Jersey safe always should be a priority, and I am glad we’ve been able to compromise with the governor to produce legislation that will further that objective.”