To the Editor:
The coming week of October 4th through the 10th is the 93rd annual Fire Prevention Week. The theme this year, which is changed every year, is “Hear the Beep When You Sleep.” It is intended to raise awareness of the fact that nearly half of all home fire deaths occur overnight, when residents are asleep. The call to action is to have a smoke detector in every bedroom.
This is a noble mission and one that every fire safety advocate fully supports. The issue I would like to draw attention to however is the lack of changes to the fire code regarding fire sprinkler coverage since the Edgewater fire in January of this year.
The state recently adopted the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) and specifically left out the portion of including fire sprinklers in all new residential construction, which was established as a Minimum Life Safety Code since 2009. The DCA chose to do this despite loud and clear calls from the fire safety and service community that new construction methods leave residents and first responders vulnerable to the quick spread of fire and the reduced time to structural failure of modern building materials.
The DCA is also currently examining the “Cost VS Benefit” of fire sprinklers in newly constructed townhomes, which would protect a significant amount of the new construction in this state. This stems from Governor Christies conditional veto of bill A1698, which was passed by the Senate and Assembly in consecutive sessions following years of research and testimony. If the DCA fails to recognize the need for these systems in townhomes it will be the second time in a matter of months that it has put the residents of this state at risk.
This fire prevention week please consider the life-saving benefits of smoke alarms in each bedroom, but also remember that fire sprinklers are the only proactive form of fire protection.
Executive Director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board