The town of Union City, New Jersey, is in mourning following a residential fire on July 13 that claimed the lives of five children. Ranging in age from 2 to 13, the children were from the same family and were sleeping when the fire started, according to news reports. Adults and firefighters were also injured in the five-alarm blaze.
According to a story on NJ.com, the cause appears to be from a faulty, electrical outlet, though the investigation is ongoing. (Please follow NFPA’s tips on electrical safety in the home.) The building's owner has been cited with code violations, including failure to maintain smoke alarms and failure to "comply or maintain a fire escape," states another story on NJ.com.
Union City’s mayor’s office has established a victim's fund via a GoFundMe page. “NFPA sends its heartfelt condolences to the family, the victims, and to the entire Union City community,” says NFPA President Jim Pauley. “This incident is a heartbreaking reminder of the devastating and frequent toll of today’s home fires. As far as our country has come in reducing losses associated with fire, home fires remain a major problem that we can no longer ignore.”
NFPA’s research underscores this problem; home fires, on average, kill seven people each day and injure 13,000 annually. Equally alarming is the fact that if there is a reported fire in your home today, you are more likely to die in that fire than one nearly 40 years ago. Life-saving technologies reduce the risk of death or injury from home fires, but aren’t always embraced by state decision makers. For instance, the home fire death rate in homes with hardwired smoke alarms and fire sprinklers is 90 percent lower than homes without them, per NFPA. In New Jersey, legislative bills requiring sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes have made it to then Governor Chris Christie’s desk twice, which he vetoed both times. The state’s Assembly and Senate have once again introduced similar sprinkler bills this year.
“NFPA joins local safety advocates in supporting any legislation in New Jersey that bolsters fire sprinkler protection, especially in new homes,” says Pauley. “Preventing future generations from experiencing a tragedy similar to what occurred in Union City is why NFPA is fully committed to fire sprinkler requirements.”