In Lakewood, NJ more than 65 firefighters battled flames on the evening of Thursday, December 13, 2012 that consumed a multi-story home. After 90 minutes the blaze had been extinguished, but all that remained was the charred skeleton of a home.
Luckily, the family, who was home when the fire started, escaped without harm. First responders cited newer building materials such as vinyl siding as a cause for the accelerated burn and total destruction. New lightweight construction methods and materials are making it harder and more dangerous for firefighters to safely extinguish blazes and for occupants to escape safely.
It’s estimated that most homes built within the past 20 years contain these dangerous lightweight materials, which are designed to carry a greater load with less material by using prefabricated components.
While these lightweight construction materials are touted as being more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, they also allow fires to spread much more rapidly, significantly reducing the time occupants have to escape a fire, and the time firefighters have to safely extinguish the blaze.
Currently, there is pending legislation in New Jersey, bill A1570 in the Assembly, and recently introduced Senate bill 2273, which would make it mandatory for all newly constructed one- and two-family homes as well as condominiums and townhomes to be equipped with fire sprinklers. If passed, this legislation would help to reduce the devastating effects of fires like this one, and help protect New Jersey residents in the places where they should feel safest -- their homes.
Fire sprinklers are the only proactive form of fire protection, mitigating the risk to individuals affected by the blaze, including both occupants of the home and the firefighters who respond to battle the fire helping to avoid potential injuries and devastating tragedies.
David Kurasz, Executive Director
New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board
2 King Arthur Ct., Suite 1
North Brunswick, N.J. 08902