‘New Home Fire Safety Act’ Would Protect Lives, Property
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross that would increase public safety by requiring that certain new homes are equipped with a fire suppression system was approved today by the Senate Budget Committee.
“Firefighters in New Jersey have recognized a need for this legislation and have advocated its passage as a means to save lives and to protect the safety of the public and emergency responders alike,” said Senator Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It took a major fire at Seton Hall for us to enact the first mandatory residence hall fire sprinkler law. We shouldn’t legislate around tragedies when we can avoid them with commonsense safeguards. I recognize that new safety measures are often met with knee-jerk opposition, but I believe that one day we will look at fire sprinklers in homes in the same way we do seat belts and air bags in cars. This is a proactive step that we are taking to protect lives and property in our state.”
According to the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board, there were more than 16,477 structure fires reported in New Jersey in 2010, with an overwhelming majority of them occurring in residential structures. A total of 1,130 injuries were reported, with 737 of them suffered by firefighters. There were also 75 fatalities recorded.
The “New Home Fire Safety Act” (S-2273) would require the installation of fire suppression systems in new single and two-family homes during construction. In such systems, an extinguishing agent is discharged through fixed pipes and nozzles into or over a potential fire hazard. The systems may include containers, nozzles, controls, automatic detection, manual releases, equipment shut downs, and alarms.
“When a fire erupts in a structure, it can be a mere matter of seconds before it spreads out of control. Anything we can do to protect our residents and emergency responders is worth the price tag,” said Senator Norcross. “This is an investment in public safety that will ultimately cost less than rebuilding after a terrible tragedy, and additionally will save lives.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.