New Jersey Municipality Adopts Fire Safety Resolution in Support of Stronger Building Codes

The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the governing body for the County of Essex, NJ, recently adopted a resolution that supports Assembly Bill 5196/Senate Bill 3490, statewide legislation that would amend New Jersey’s construction code for fire safety reasons, and provide an added level of protection for firefighters and residents alike, reports NRMCA Vice President, State and Local Government Affairs, John Loyer. The legislation calls for the installation of an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with NFPA 13, measuring the number of stories from the grade plane, using noncombustible materials for construction and installing a fire barrier with a fire resistance rating of at least two hours that extends from the foundation to the roof.

“The terms included within the resolution would go a long way in securing the well-being of New Jersey’s residents and firefighters,” said Ed Donnelly, president of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA), whose members attended the resolution hearing. “The best way to combat a fire is to keep it from starting. Once it’s started, the best strategy is to keep it from spreading, and this legislation provides exactly that.”

In February 2017, Essex County was the site of a major fire at a wood-framed apartment complex under construction in the community of Maplewood. The incident came nearly two years after a massive fire displaced more than 500 residents from an apartment complex of similar construction in Edgewater, located in neighboring Bergen County. There have been dozens of fires of a similar nature throughout the country over the last several months.

Despite the massive infernos and the calls for stronger building codes, legislation drafted to help prevent additional fires in New Jersey stalled after facing opposition from groups like the New Jersey Builders Association and the New Jersey Apartment Association – organizations that stand to benefit financially from the use of cheaper, combustible building materials.

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 at 703-675-7603 or

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