Fire deaths on the rise in NJ: eight child victims since January

To the Editor:

How many more families will have to suffer the loss of loved ones due to fire?
Tragically, 37 lives have been lost since January, including eight innocent children, in 27 home fires that broke out in single and two-family homes, multi-family homes, townhomes and apartments across New Jersey.
The most recent incident was a devastating fire that broke out in a multi-family home in Union City that injured dozens, including firefighters, and claimed the lives of five young children.
Our hearts bleed for these families and their community. Nobody should have to suffer this kind of loss due to fire, especially when we have the technology to prevent large fire growth.
Unfortunately, none of the homes impacted by deadly fires this year had fire sprinklers.
Fire sprinklers are not required in smaller one and two-family residences in New Jersey, unlike about 20 other states in the nation. We are falling behind, which is unacceptable. The time for action is now.
The sobering fact is, fire sprinkler systems could have changed the heart-wrenching outcome of the Union City fire and many others. Fire sprinklers can reduce the risk of dying in a fire by 80% and the extent of property damage by 70 percent. When the State legislature returns to session they will have an opportunity to consider a new bill, the β€œNew Home Fire Safety Act,” (A3974 A. Quijano/S2539 T. Ruiz) that would help protect residents by requiring the installation of fire suppression systems in new single and two-family homes during construction.
We encourage you to contact your local legislators and let them know that you support initiatives like the β€œNew Home Fire Safety Act” and that New Jersey should join other states that have put fire safety in the forefront to protect their residents.

Executive Director
The New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB)