Building for Fire Safety: Public Forum – IMI’s Dan Siteman Sits on Panel

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  • May 30, 2019

On March 6, 2019 NJ Senator Loretta Weinberg hosted a panel of fire safety, material and building professionals, and citizen activists to discuss how NJ can improve resident and firefighter safety with regards to light frame multifamily (Type V) construction.

Legislation under consideration; S854 sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner, Senator Kip Bateman and Senator Weinberg and S1261 sponsored by Senator Brian Stack; which include:

  • Limiting the size of large-scale wood housing by requiring open space between wood apartment/condo buildings
  • Requiring masonry firewalls between buildings
  • Requiring upgraded commercial NFPA 13 fire suppression, including sprinklers in the attic spaces
  • Requiring a fire-watch during construction of large-scale wood structures.

Panelists included:

  • Dan Siteman – International Masonry Institute
  • Jordan Zaretsky – Teaneck Fire Department
  • Thomas Jacobson – Edgewater Fire Chief
  • Thomas Troy – President, NJ Builders Association
  • Glenn Corbett – NJ Fire Code Advisory Council – Bergen County Fire Chiefs
  • Alexi Assmus, PhD – Citizen Activist – Massive Fires Damage Lives

BAC Local 4 President Ken Simone and Field Representative Steve Preziosi attended. Association Member EP Henry’s Joe Diblasio, several firefighter groups, the NJ Deputy Fire Chiefs Association, the NJ Fire Prevention & Protection Association, as well as a representative from the American Wood Council (AWC) all participated.

Dan Siteman spoke about the potential savings in insurance, thermal properties, and sustainability that end users in affordable housing would actually see.  He also mentioned the perceived cost savings from stick framing is passed on to the community to deal with the aftermath of fire events and noted there is no equal when it comes to fire safety and masonry. “You don’t have to turn a masonry wall on for it to work”.  Dan mentioned the reliability of sprinklers approaching 90%, but not 100%.

Senator Weinberg asked each panelist to talk about what one thing they would change if they could.  Glenn Corbett and Alexi Assmus asked for the ban of lightweight wood frames for this occupancy group, firefighters were mixed between sprinkler upgrades, more manpower, and more noncombustible construction.  Dan Siteman stated that any firewall should be masonry continuous from foundation through the roof, with no option for a substitute.

Head over to our Gallery to see more Photos from the Forum  https://www.mcofnj.org/events-gallery/