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  • NJ A1914
  • Amends State construction code for fire safety reasons.
Introduced
(1/27/2016)
In Committee
(1/27/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill would implement recommendations set forth in reports of the Code Advisory Council of the Fire Safety Commission and an ad hoc committee formed by the Fire Safety Commission to review fire safety issues in multiple dwelling structures of lightweight wood frame construction. On January 21, 2015, a large uncontrolled fire occurred at a multiple dwelling complex in Edgewater Borough, New Jersey. The fire, which burned for several days before finally being extinguished, destroyed 240 of the 408 dwelling units and displaced over 500 residents. Another 520 residents in surrounding homes were temporarily displaced. The reports identified a pattern of costly, catastrophic fires occurring in buildings of this type of construction, and determined that code provisions which allow for large buildings of Type V construction to be equipped with NFPA 13R residential sprinkler systems need to be changed. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes standards dealing with the installation of sprinklers in buildings, which standards have been incorporated by reference into the State construction code. NFPA 13 is the overarching standard for sprinkler system protection. NFPA 13R permits sprinklers to be omitted from certain areas where they are required under NFPA 13. The bill imposes limits on the size of buildings that may be built with Type V construction and which utilize NFPA 13R sprinkler systems. The bill amends provisions of the State construction code that allow for the construction of buildings on top of structures such as parking garages, which provisions effectively allow the buildings to be built higher than otherwise allowed. According to the Code Advisory Council of the Fire Safety Commission, as the height of a building increases and access to the building decreases, the ability of a fire department to rescue trapped occupants or to effectively apply firefighting resources is greatly diminished. In the case of the January 2015 Edgewater fire, firefighters were forced to use a ground ladder to rescue other trapped firefighters and occupants off of a balcony on the rear face of the building after rapid fire spread cut off their path of escape within the building. The rear of the building had no apparatus access. Had the trapped individuals been located another floor above, they would have been out of reach of ground ladders. The Code Advisory Council report on lightweight construction indicates that firefighters view the code provisions allowing building heights to be calculated from the top of structures like parking garages, often referred to as "pedestals," as physically elevating fire problems and making firefighting efforts even more dangerous and difficult. Other recommendations set forth in the reports, which would be implemented by adoption of this bill, modify the requirements for installing residential sprinkler systems in buildings comprised, in whole or in part, of lightweight wood frame construction in order to enhance life safety. The bill balances fire safety concerns with other policy considerations by affording developers an opportunity to increase the floor area of developments without increasing the height of buildings. The ad hoc committee report specifically states that, in arriving at its recommendations, the committee balanced fire safety concerns with other policy concerns, including the State's economy and the need to produce affordable housing.
Not specified
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee  (on 1/27/2016)
 
 
Date Chamber Action Description
1/27/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified