On Friday, July 13, a two-alarm blaze swept through 40th Street in Union City, N.J., leaving four families displaced. The blaze moved quickly, spreading throughout the third floor of the apartment building. Thanks to the local firefighters’ valiant efforts and quick response, none of the building’s residents were severely injured. However, the building endured extensive damage and four families have been forced to find temporary housing. This catastrophic property loss could have been prevented and the residents of this building could have avoided being injured and uprooted. Properly installed and maintained fire sprinklers control and typically extinguish a fire before the fire department even arrives on the scene. More importantly, the presence of fire sprinklers mitigates the risk to individuals affected by the blaze, including both occupants of the home and the firefighters who respond to battle the fire. Although this apartment structure was not required to be equipped with fire sprinklers according to code, due to the date it was built, if fire sprinklers had been present in the building, a tragedy of this magnitude would have been avoided. If the structure was equipped with fire sprinklers, residents wouldn’t find themselves homeless. Fire doesn’t discriminate and can strike at any time and in any type of home, including one- and two- family homes, condominiums, townhomes and apartments.
Currently, there is pending legislation in New Jersey, bill A1570 in the Assembly, which would make it mandatory for all newly constructed one- and two-family homes as well as condominiums and townhomes to be equipped with fire sprinklers. If passed, this legislation would help to reduce the devastating effects of fires and help protect New Jersey residents in the places where they should feel safest — their homes. Fire sprinklers are the only proactive form of fire protection, providing firefighters the time they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible, while helping to avoid potential injuries and devastating tragedies like this one.
Executive Director New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board