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.

"I don't think what he's doing tonight, the method by which he's doing it helps to build a trustful relationship."
—Gov. Chris Christie reacting to President Barack Obama's speech on immigration reform.