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New Jersey Fire Official Responds to Wood Industry Opposition to Safety Legislation

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Abdur Yasin, a fire captain from West Orange, NJ, recently wrote about efforts in his state to increase the fire safety of buildings. Currently, there are several pieces of legislation in the New Jersey State House that would go a long way in bringing codes on par with fire safety standards for buildings similar to that which burned in Edgewater, NJ. These include common-sense code changes such as limits on wooden structures in highly populated areas, a requirement for a 24-hour fire watch during the construction process and signage that helps firefighters understand more about the nature of the building before entering. This could take place immediately if, instead of bowing to the status quo and allowing code officials to "do their job," we insist that legislators do their jobs by enacting meaningful legislation that prevents future devastation, suggests American Wood Council President and CEO Robert Glowinski.

Assembly Bill 1914, introduced by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, is the first step in the right direction. Written in response to a fire in Avalon, NJ, it would bring about needed measures to ensure fire safety during all phases of construction. It protects the construction workers during the building phase, the eventual residents and the fire safety professionals who would be called upon in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Most importantly, it comes from the logical construct that most of us have come to realize: Wood burns and we need to find ways to control the fire or prevent it from ever happening by building with safer, fire-resistant materials, such as concrete or steel.

Build with Strength is a first-of-its-kind program for the concrete industry, designed not only to support our members, their businesses and the hard-working men and women of the concrete industry, but also to change the way people think about concrete construction versus direct competitors like soft-wood lumber. NRMCA has resources to help members and state affiliates advocate for resilient and safer construction, including model legislation, talking points, public relations and other key strategies.
To learn more about how NRMCA can assist in state advocacy, please contact Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs John Loyer at 703-675-7603 or

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