Sprinkler system requirement for new homes advances in N.J.

A New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation that would require sprinklers in new homes built in the Garden State.

Hotels, dormitories and apartments in New Jersey already are required to have sprinkler systems. The measure sponsored by Assemblyman John Wisniewski would withhold occupancy permits for newly constructed single and two-family homes unless they’re equipped with sprinklers.

“This legislation would improve public safety. It would, more importantly, protect our public safety officers and save an untold number of people from the hardship resulting from residential fires,” Wisnieski.

Fire safety officials support the measure.

“Sprinkler systems have been protecting lives for over 100 years throughout the United States. Building homes without residential sprinkler systems equates to building substandard housing,” said Tim Travers with the National Fire Protection Association.

And David Matos, executive director of the New Jersey Fire and Emergency Medical Services Institute, said requiring sprinklers when new homes are built will improve safety.

“Sprinklers can dramatically reduce the threat to firefighters and civilians by knocking down and containing fires to the room of origin, allowing residents to exit quickly and safely while greatly mitigating the dangerous conditions for responders,” Matos said.

The New Jersey Builders Association opposes it. A representative said the sprinkler requirement would add thousands of dollars of the costs of housing that middle-income families are already struggling to afford.

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