Standing near what was once a residential complex in Edgewater, New Jersey, before fire ravaged it in January, fire officials publicly scolded state lawmakers for their inability to use the event as a means to strengthen the state's building code. Displacing hundreds of residents, the fire demonstrated a need for greater action on building safety.
"This is not something that needs to be studied to death," said Glenn Corbett, member of the Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association, according to an article that appeared on NorthJersey.com. "It's pretty clear what the problem is and what the solution is. It's just that they don't have the political willpower in Trenton [the state's capital] to change it."
Part of the "solution," said safety advocates at the recent protest in front of razed structure, is fire sprinklers. AvalonBay, the builder of the Edgewater complex, has committed to sprinklering some of its future developments in New Jersey above and beyond the requirements in the state building code. Legislators have introduced bills to strengthen building safety and increase sprinkler protection in new homes, but action on those bills are at a standstill.
"There's not a consensus right now as to what the best way to go is," Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who has been championing for sprinklers in all new homes before and after the Edgewater fire, told NorthJersey.com. Wisniewski introduced the New Home Fire Safety Act, which would have mandated sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes, but the measure was conditionally vetoed this year by Gov. Chris Christie.
Wisniewski and others had hoped the shock of the Edgewater fire would have prompted change. "You would've thought we could've gotten action quickly, and we go absolutely nothing," said Corbett. "We got nothing from Trenton, and we're demanding that it happen right now."
The push for fire sprinklers in New Jersey marches on. Visit the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition website to see how advocates there are highlighting home fire sprinklers.