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Six-Alarm Fire in Massachusetts Heavily Damages Wood Apartment Building Weeks Before Move In

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In late June, a six-story, lightweight wood-framed apartment building in Dorchester, MA, that was in the final stages of construction, and just days from having its fire alarm system inspected and two weeks from having residents move in, was engulfed in flames, destroying the roof and top floors. The blaze marked the third major regional fire featuring this type of construction in the region in June, with the other two occurring in Lowell and Lawrence, MA. According to Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn, the fire was "very difficult" and "very dangerous for [fire service professionals]" because of the building’s "lightweight construction." He went on to say "this is basically, under the building code, you can build one story of steel or concrete and you can raise up four stories of wooden construction. In the size and scope of this building, it's nothing but a tinderbox."

This year, in addition to the recent fires in Massachusetts, there have been a number of notable wood-framed apartment fires in East Hollywood, CA; Waterbury, CT; Oakland, CA; St. Petersburg, FL; Arlington, VA; College Park, MD; Overland Park, KS; Raleigh, NC; and Maplewood, NJ. There have been dozens over the last few years. Because of regulations ascribed to the International Building Code, which is the base code standard for much of the United States, many buildings throughout Boston and the United States as a whole are built using this type of construction.

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 NRMCA Vice President of State and Local Government Affairs John Loyer at 703-675-7603 or

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