To the Editor,

Here we sit, one month into 2016. According to the U.S. Fire Administration there have already been seven fire related civilian deaths in New Jersey. In 2015, according to the same source, there were 55 civilian fire fatalities. The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety released their official numbers for 2014 a few months ago. The toll was 81 civilian fire deaths. That totals 143 New Jersey residents. Men, women, children, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Despite all of this, some people still argue that we do not have a fire problem in New Jersey.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that 50 percent of all home heating fires, the second leading cause for residential structure fires, occur between the months of December and February. This is the deadliest time of year for home fires and a good time to think about advancing fire protection in residential properties. This past legislative session the Governor had a chance to sign into law legislation that would have forced New Jersey to comply with the International Code Council’s minimum life safety code, which would require all newly constructed residential buildings to install fire sprinklers. The Governor vetoed the bill and left the avenue open for the NJDCA to conduct a cost analysis of installing fire sprinklers in only new townhomes, but the New Jersey Senate did not accept his veto. This leaves residents of newly constructed homed just as, if not more, vulnerable to fire.    

One year ago we saw just how dangerous new construction methods that reach for the sky with engineered wood trusses can be when not protected by an adequate fire sprinkler system for the risk associated with the structure. Edgewater was a case study in the need for more fire protection. Still, here we sit, one month into 2016 and very little has been achieved, advanced or acknowledged. Please educate yourselves and your families on the dangers of fire, especially in the winter, and take some time to learn about residential fire sprinklers.

David Kurasz

Executive Director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board

North Brunswick, NJ