Support a rigorous and thorough review of construction and fire codes

Susan Jeffries, Princeton
    I wasn’t aware of lightweight wood construction until the catastrophic Edgewater fire. It took little effort however to discover that firefighters have long known that lightweight construction burns hotter and collapses faster than other types of construction, posing increased risk to fire fighter and occupant safety. For years firefighter associations have been calling for upgraded fire, life-safety and construction codes, but their efforts have been thwarted by the construction and developer lobbies.
    Publically traded AvalonBay sees the tightening of fire and safety codes as a financial risk: “Lower revenue growth or unanticipated expenditures may result from our need to comply with changes to building codes and fire and life-safety codes.” (AvalonBay 10K report 2013) But what about the financial and lethal risk to occupants, tax payers and towns touched by fire?
    News outlets report that AvalonBay has donated $20,000 to the Borough of Edgewater and that the borough has spent $230,000 fighting the fire. Should occupants, taxpayers and towns shoulder the financial burden of catastrophic fires when whole industries are lobbying against safety standards that would make them less likely?
    No! The dollars corporations save go into their pockets, the dollars spent come out of yours.
    To foster safety and sound investment in your community, support a rigorous and thorough review of all relevant construction and fire codes and until the code review is finished, a moratorium on the approval of new lightweight construction in New Jersey. Con 
tact Speaker Vincent Prieto (, Assemblyman Scott Rumana ( today. 
Susan Jefferies 
Princeton 