NJ Lawmakers Consider Fire Safety Legislation

Dec 7, 2017

January 2015 fire at Edgewater apartment building.

A measure advancing in the New Jersey legislature is intended to prevent fast spreading fires like the one that swept through an apartment complex in Edgewater three years ago, displacing more than 500 residents.

The legislation would limit the height of multi-unit residences constructed with lightweight wood frames.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says sprinkler systems would be required in confined areas.

"Like attic spaces that aren't finished or closets or bathrooms that are less than approximately 55 square feet, areas where potentially a fire could start and manifest and become catastrophic."

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco -- who's also a firefighter -- is pushing for the new regulations.

"These changes in the state construction code will not only save lives of residents in the event of a fire. They will also save lives of my brother and sister firefighters and other first responders."

David Brogan, of the New Jersey Apartment Association, worries that requiring a concrete fire wall between each attached building would increase construction costs and limit development of affordable housing.   

"I will tell you when you have that cost the margins are so thin on the affordable housing you will not get that affordable housing built."

Supporters say developers could benefit because high safety standards would make the properties more attractive.