The five-alarm fire that destroyed the Avalon Bay complex in Edgewater, N.J., this past January swept through the building almost as quickly as Obamacare passed through the U.S. Senate, destroying half of the 408 units in the apartment.
According to Monday’s Bergen Record, Robert Beattie, Second District Vice President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey described the apartment as “a virtual vertical lumber yard.”
The PFANJ joined with other firefighters associations at a news conference on Sunday at the razed Edgewater complex to demand stricter fire code regulations for Avalon Bay projects.
“[S]ome lawmakers called for changes to the state building codes to require sturdier material, firewalls and enhanced sprinkler systems. But none of the bill introduced has been voted on.”
Furthermore, various bills have been presented to the N.J. legislature by both Democrats and Republicans. Republican bills call for a two-year moratorium on the approval and construction of multi-unit residences using light wood frames – the type of construction used at not just Avalon Bay’s complex in Englewood, but also in Bloomingdale and probably other sites, as well.
Light wood frame construction is prone to collapse in fires, like matchsticks, as materials burn quickly. Home builders like Avalon Bay prefer it because construction is cheaper and faster. Recommendations from fire safety experts also call for limiting wood-frame construction to three floors and 20,000 square feet per floor, more sprinklers, including in attic and closet spaces and between masonry firewalls between buildings.
They also advise restricting pedestal construction – such as concrete parking garages upon which the apartments are built – to one storey.
Avalon Bay representatives have given assurances that it has voluntarily agreed to upgrade the systems in projects under construction in Princeton and Maywood, but would not commit to enhanced sprinkler systems for other proposed, future projects such as Wayne and Teaneck.
New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) is considering presenting his own bill next month. A construction code official, he has met with offices from the Department of Community Affairs and building trade unions and understands, according to the Bergen Record, “what it will take to create legislation that will improve building standards to not only protect lives but also prevent the devastating property damage and life disruptions suffered by residents in the Avalon fire in Edgewater,” his spokesman Philip Swibinski said.”
Far down in the article, the Bergen Record finally reveals that Prieto is also reviewing bills that have proposed requiring sprinklers in new single- and two-family homes. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill in May.
“The governor issued statement saying that requiring sprinklers in all new-home construction would increase homeowners’ costs by thousands of dollars at a time when many are stilling rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy. He also said that different structures have different needs and recommended that the bill be amended to have the Department of Community Affairs determine if sprinklers should be required in new town homes.”
So there is the smoking gun of the Sustainable Development agenda of suburban destruction. The Democrat-majority New Jersey legislature will stall any bills reforming the state fire code regarding multiple-dwelling units until they can force their agenda upon New Jersey homeowners.
The substandard Avalon Bay Bloomingdale complex was a thicket of “vertical lumber.” Anyone with eyes to see – except, apparently Bloomingdale’s mayor, town council, and zoning board – could see all that open space, with inadequate firebreaks to prevent a fire from spreading, constituted a tremendous fire hazard. The town got away with this negligence by declaring the brush-strewn thicket an “urban blight zone.”
They couldn’t see the forest (right across Union Avenue) for the fees. Should Avalon Bay Bloomingdale burn down, as its sister complex in Edgewater did, Union Avenue will become an urban blight zone. Thanks to the number of welfare residents already living there, the site is already halfway there.
Depending on where such a fire would start, we locals wonder how the fire company will stop the fire from spreading to the nearby woods overhanging the development. In a dry season, a fire could easily spread all the way up the nearby hill to the elementary school and even across Union Avenue to Federal Hill, which hangs hard-by over Union Avenue.
No wonder the town built a new firehouse just down the road from Avalon Bay. No worries, though. Bloomingdale has already sold that hill – or set of hills – to Tilson Construction. A fire would just make it easier to clear more forest for more building fees.
However, our firefighters are already busy helping to put out those fires before they start.