On Thursday, December 5, in Hillsborough, N.J. an elderly couple and their dog were killed in a residential house fire on High Acre Drive despite first responders’ best efforts. The fire started around 8:15 p.m. in the basement of the home.
It appears that the couple did not attempt to evacuate the home once the fire was discovered and likely succumbed to the deadly smoke and carbon monoxide conditions that are responsible for between 50 and 80 percent of fatalities in structure fires. These conditions are especially dangerous to children and the elderly. Sleeping families and homeowners attempting to quell a fire before it spreads are often victims of smoke inhalation. December is an especially dangerous month for residential fires with holiday decorations and space heaters as common culprits for fire.
The New Jersey Assembly bill A1570 and Senate bill S2273 would make it mandatory for all newly constructed one- and two-family homes as well as condominiums and townhomes to be equipped with residential fire sprinkler systems. Bill A1570 was passed by the New Jersey Assembly and S2273 was heard by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee on December 12th and was moved from the committee to the Senate for a full vote. Fire sprinklers are the only proactive form of fire protection and can contain and often extinguish fires before they spread, providing residents with the time they need to get out and first responders the time they need to safely enter the structure.
I urge you to check your smoke detectors and to educate yourselves on how fire sprinkler systems can provide your family the time needed to escape and protect against the dangers of fire. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.
David Kurasz, Executive Director
New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board
2 King Arthur Ct., Suite 1
North Brunswick, N.J. 08902