!http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c74a553a970b-320wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c74a553a970b-320wi|alt=NJ Fire Sprinkler Coalition|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=NJ Fire Sprinkler Coalition|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c74a553a970b img-responsive!The danger of lightweight construction under fire was placed in the national spotlight last month when a residential complex in Edgewater, New Jersey, constructed with this material went up in flames. Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities, but more than 1,000 people were displaced, per the Associated Press. The residence's sprinklers operated as intended and were crucial in getting occupants to safety in ample time.
Following this event, New Jersey legislators have been busy drafting legislation to better safeguard homes and occupants from fire. A Republican assemblyman, for instance, has drafted a bill that would freeze permits on multi-family buildings made with lightweight construction, states the AP news story. Noting the enormous popularity of this engineered wood material, another assemblyman is calling for what he believes is a more feasible approach.
"The horse is out of the barn on lightweight construction; it's the state of the art in building today," Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who chairs the New Jersey Fire Safety Commission, told the AP. "It would be impossible to mandate construction with non-lightweight material at this point in time. But we have the necessary augmentation to lightweight construction, and that is sprinkler systems."
A NJ.com article states that a bill sponsored by Wisniewski to sprinkler new, one- and two-family homes has been approved by the state's Senate Budget Committee. There has been no action on the bill since it passed the Assembly in June, but the recent Edgewater fire "fast tracked" the bill to the budget committee, its final destination before a Senate vote, states the article. A similar bill in 2013 passed the state Assembly and Senate, but was pocket vetoed by Governor Chris Christie in 2014.
"I have found throughout the years of my trying to get residential sprinkler systems in homes that this has become a political issue," Richard Silva, president of the New Jersey State Fire and Protection Association and a member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition, told NJ.com. "And it upsets me terribly. Because we're losing 50 to 60 residents every year to residential structure fires."