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Senator Donald Norcross, D-Camden, speaks about legislation on the floor of the State Senate.


 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 Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

“The fire safety community has advocated this measure as a way to save lives and increase safety for residents and first 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.”

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 breaks out in a residential structure, it can take mere seconds for a small flame to spread 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.”

The bill was approved by a vote of 3-0-1. It next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.