NJ lawmaker thinks towering wood-frame buildings are too dangerous
Legislation to improve fire protection and safety in multi-family dwellings has been rolled out by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
It was prompted by a massive blaze at a multi-family luxury apartment complex in Edgewater in 2015 that displaced over 500 residents. The fast-moving blaze spread through sealed spaces in the building that didn't have sprinklers.
Prieto wants to require fire suppression in those spaces.
"I think it will add minimal cost and that way it will still be able to be built."
There are three main provisions in his two-bill package of legislation, which is co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, Assemblyman Tim Eustace and Assemblyman Joe Lagana.
* Mandating that fire suppression systems be installed in concealed combustible spaces such as common lofts and other locations that are not covered by current building codes.
* Mandating that unprotected and unheated wood-framed attic areas be protected by a dry sprinkler system in buildings with lightweight wood construction.
* Limiting height of lightweight wood construction buildings that do not meet NFPA 13 regulations to two or fewer stories, and limiting per story floor area to 10,000 square feet unless a minimum two-hour masonry or concrete firewall is included between each attached building.
As part of the legislation, there is also a requirement of a fire watch at major construction sites during off times.
Prieto says the increased fire suppression benefits building residents and firefighters.
"First and foremost, protecting life and property, giving the tolls and resources to the gentlemen that actually are running into harm's way."
The Assembly Speaker, who represents the 32nd Legislative District in Hudson County, is also the construction code official for Secaucus.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.
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