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

‘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 received final approval today in the full Senate. It now heads to the desk of the governor.

“Since the majority of fires in the state occur in residential structures, having an automated sprinkler in a home could literally mean the difference between life and death for our residents,” said Senator Norcross (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It took a major fire at Seton hall to enact the first mandatory residence hall fire sprinkler law. We should implement commonsense safety controls in homes now rather than wait for more tragedies to occur. I know that new safety measures are often met with resistance early on, but one day we will look at fire sprinklers in homes in the same way we do seat belts and air bags in cars.”

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.

“In a matter of seconds, a small home fire can spread out of control causing destruction and resulting in the loss of life. Anything we can do to allow more time for residents to evacuate and firefighters to respond 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 will save lives.”

The Senate approved the bill 25-13. The Assembly approved the legislation in January.