New-home sprinkler bill advances

TRENTON – The Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee released a bill requiring sprinklers in new homes. The vote was 4-0-1 with Michael Patrick Carroll abstaining.

A1570, The “New Home Fire Safety Act,” would require the installation of a fire suppression system in new single- and two-family homes during construction. 

The bill also provides that a certificate of occupancy may not be issued for a new home until the state or local code enforcement agency determines that the home is equipped with a fire suppression system that conforms to State Uniform Construction Code systems.

Co-sponsor Assemblyman John Wisniewski presented the bill as a life-saving, cost-effective measure.

In response to a question from committee member Michael Patrick Carroll, Wisniewski said he did not believe this would apply to Sandy-ravaged homes being rebuilt, but only to new structures.

The N.J. Homebuilders Association opposed the bill because it would add thousands of dollars in costs at a time when the industry is struggling, and their spokesman said they believe rebuilt homes would have to have these sprinkler systems installed if so much of a structure was destroyed that a new certificate of occupancy is needed.

Fire officials said builders are putting profit before safety. State Fire Protection Association President Stanley Sickels said “If you ask that father who lost a child in a fire if they wished they had a sprinkler, they’d say yes.”

They criticized lightweight, particle-board construction and the increase in fires with shorter burn times that reduce rescue opportunities.

"This meeting is entirely off the record. Until somebody leaks it."
—Michael Kempner, addressing a roomful of Democratic powerbrokers organizng for Hillary Clinton