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Latest New Jersey Apartment Fire Renews Calls for Revising Building Codes

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Early last Saturday, firefighters in Maplewood, NJ, battled a huge fire at an apartment complex that is currently under construction. The structure was unoccupied; it is scheduled to open in March. One person was injured, a firefighter who slipped on ice. It is not clear how many of the 235 units planned for the complex were destroyed. A large section of the building was in rubble, but about 120 firefighters from two dozen fire companies in Essex and Union counties were able to keep the fire from damaging the finished part of the structure. This building is owned the same developer, AvalonBay, that built the structure in Edgewater, NJ, that also went up in flames (twice).

Does this sound familiar? There are several pieces of legislation in New Jersey (seven bills, to be exact) that address this very issue and, most importantly, come from the logical construct that most of us have come to realize: this type of wood-based construction is not safe. It 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. Through the Build with Strength initiative, 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 John Loyer, vice president of state and local government affairs, at 703-675-7603 or

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