[OPINION] Union City Fire Underscores Need For Sprinklers

by David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board

A three-alarm fire struck Union City on the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 3, on the fourth floor of a multi-family building, located on Bergenline Avenue and 5th Street. The powerful blaze caused flames that lasted hours and clouds of black smoke that filled the air, and resulted in an uninhabitable building and dozens of residents displaced.

Fortunately, no one was injured as a result of this fire, but this catastrophic property loss and displacement of more than 20 families this holiday season is devastating. Tragic fires like this one can be prevented. 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.

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