For Immediate Release:
October 17, 2018


Bergen County Calls Upon Legislature to Support Fire Code Safety Reforms



(Hackensack) –The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted to approve Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco’s proposed resolution in support of state legislation to amend New Jersey’s fire code. Tedesco, an active duty Paramus firefighter for more than four decades, was among those responding to the devastating fire in Edgewater at the Avalon Bay apartment complex, just 20 days after becoming County Executive. Since that fire, one of the worst in Tedesco’s career, the County Executive has been advocating for common sense changes to the state construction code to better protect firefighters and residents alike.

The adopted resolution supports Assembly Bill 135 and Senate Bill 1261, legislation that calls for the installation of an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with NFPA 13, measuring the number of stories from the grade plane, using noncombustible materials for construction, and installing a fire barrier with a fire resistance rating of at least two hours that extends from the foundation to the roof.

“Bergen County has already seen enough tragedy at the hand of preventable building fires, and we haven’t forgotten,” said Jim Tedesco, the Bergen County Executive. “Prevention is always the best strategy, and pressing for stronger, safer building codes and non-combustible materials is the easiest way to protect our community. We’re confident that state lawmakers understand our concern and will act quickly.”


(Pictured Left to Right: Freeholder Joan Voss, Freeholder David L. Ganz, NJ State FMBA Legislative Committee Member John Hund, Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco)


In January 2015, a massive five-alarm fire in Edgewater destroyed over half of a 408-unit apartment building, leaving over 500 residents homeless or displaced. One fire chief cited lightweight wood construction as a primary reason for the spread of the blaze. In 2017, a six-alarm fire at a complex in Maplewood using the same construction method destroyed more than two-thirds of the units under construction.

“On behalf of the NJ State FMBA, I want to thank County Executive Jim Tedesco, Chairman Tom Sullivan and the entire Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders tonight for supporting this resolution. The terms included within the resolution would go a long way in securing the well-being of New Jersey’s residents and our firefighters,” said Ed Donnelly, president of the New Jersey State Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA). “When it comes to combatting a fire, the best offense is a good defense, and this legislation provides exactly that. This is good common sense legislation that will save lives.”