Fire Watch Requirements for Buildings Under Construction

As result of the tragic fire in Bound Brook last night, there has been renewed discussion surrounding the safety of wood frame buildings. When designed and built properly, wood frame buildings can be safe, affordable, resilient and sustainable. From the accounts I’ve read, the buildings in Bound Brook where the fire started were under construction. Buildings in this state are particularly vulnerable because required elements like fire rated gypsum board, fire doors, smoke alarms, and sprinklers have not yet been installed.

For these reasons, the 2018 International Building Code, which was recently adopted in NJ, allows the Fire Official to require a fire watch in combustible buildings that exceed 40 feet in height. A fire watch means that trained workers are on site 24/7 to monitor the building and alert emergency personnel if smoke or fire are spotted.

These new regulations will certainly help protect buildings under construction and hopefully prevent future similar incidents.

Robert M. Longo, AIA

New Requirement for Buildings in New Jersey with Solar Panels

On December 20, 2017 the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety adopted a new rule requiring identifying emblems for structures with solar panels.

Photovoltaic (solar) panels pose a risk to emergency personnel especially firefighters. Solar panels can carry enough voltage and current to injure or even kill someone who comes in contact with the energized conductors. They can also be a trip hazard and interfere with ventilating a roof during a fire. For these reasons it is important for first responders to be aware when they are entering a building that is powered by solar panels so they can take proper precautions.

The photovoltaic system warning signs require an emblem in the shape of a Maltese cross made up of a three inch diameter circle with a stroke width of one-half inch and Maltese cross wings that are one and one-eighth inches in height or width with a stroke width of one-half inch.  Signs must also have a white reflective background with red lettering. Depending on the installation, one of the following three signs will be required; “PV Roof Mounted”, “PV Adjacent”, or “PV Roof Mounted and Adjacent.” All lettering shall be one and one-quarter inch in height with a stroke width of one-quarter inch.

The owner of the building is responsible for posting these signs.  They shall be permanently mounted to the left of the main entrance door at a height of between four and six feet above the ground and shall be maintained to ensure readability. If a truss identification sign has already been posted, this new sign shall be posted directly above the truss sign.

Detached one and two-family residential structures shall be exempt from the signage provisions, however the owner of any residential or nonresidential structure who installed a roof mounted solar panel system must provide written notification to the local fire official. This written notification should include the name of the property owner, the address of the structure where the PV system has been installed, the year they were installed, and a copy of the permit that was filed.

The full text of the rules adoption can be downloaded here.

If you need signs for your building, we found an online retailer that is making signs that conform to the New Jersey requirements; they can be purchased here.

If you have any question regarding these changes or any other code requirements, just ask the code experts at Cornerstone.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Required in All Use Groups

New Jersey recently adopted a rule modifying the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) to require Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors in all use groups. Previously, CO detectors were only required in use groups where occupants would be sleeping unattended, including group I-1 and all group R buildings.

Carbon monoxide is primarily a concern in buildings with fuel burning appliances. If a building has natural gas or oil fired appliances such as a furnace, boiler, water heater, stove, clothes dryer, etc, then CO detection will be required.

This requirement is retroactive under UFC, meaning all buildings with fuel burning appliance must now comply. The law is currently in effect and there is no grace period. This requirement will likely be enforced during the annual fire inspection process required for most commercial buildings.

The requirements for CO detection also apply to new construction. Relevant changes have been made to UCC via errata to IBC 2015 NJ edition, which can be downloaded here. Requirements for additions, alterations and reconstructions can be found in the Rehabilitation Subcode.

The retroactive requirements in UFC for non-residential use groups are outlined below.

  • Carbon monoxide detection is required to be installed in the immediate vicinity of all sources of carbon monoxide.
  • In addition to providing detection at the source, the following additional areas need to be protected:
    • Spaces adjacent to the source of carbon monoxide.
    • In the immediate vicinity of any shaft, including but not limited to, stair towers, elevator shafts and ventilation shafts at the level of the potential source of carbon monoxide.
    • In the room at the first register or grill off the main duct trunk(s) from the HVAC equipment that is a potential source of carbon monoxide.
    • In any story that is within two stories of a source of carbon monoxide.

There are specific cases where the UFC exempts the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. These include repair garages, battery charging areas and most warehouses.

Carbon monoxide alarms may be battery-operated, plug-in, or hard-wired. Combination fire and carbon monoxide detection systems are permitted. The alarm must provide sound at a level that is 15dB above ambient sound. There is no requirement for fire department notification.

Additional information is available in DCA Bulletin 2017-1 which can be downloaded here.

If you have any question regarding these changes or any other code requirements, just ask the code experts at Cornerstone.

Cornerstone Participates in CANstruction

CANstruction is a competition created under the vision of uniting design and engineering through a unique and fun medium that improves the lives of the underprivileged and benefits local food bank programs. This charity event is part of a national program that calls upon teams of architects and designers to envision and create structures made entirely of canned food.

Cornerstone Architectural Group’s team was thrilled to participate in this notable event once again this year. This year’s theme was Childhood Toys, and our entry build was The Fisher-Price “Chatter Telephone”. Our entry required almost 4,000 cans! After the build, all food was donated to a local food bank. Truly a great cause and effect.

We would like to thanks our generous donors; S&K Construction : Ajay Barthwal : The Holder Group : Beth & Louis Eisenberg : The Reynolds Group : Cheryl & Anthony L’Altrelli :Jeff Maglietta


Cornerstone Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Cornerstone Architectural Group, LLC, celebrated 30 years in business during a reception at the firm’s Hamilton Boulevard office building. Staff, invited guests, clients, business partners, friends and family gathered at an outdoor social gathering amid tasty treats and favorite beverages. The celebration was highlighted by Borough Council President Derryk C. White, when he presented and read a proclamation from the Mayor’s office congratulating the partners and staff of Cornerstone on their 30th Anniversary.

Ranked by NJ Biz Magazine as one of New Jersey’s top 50 architectural design firms. Cornerstone Architectural Group is a local, design award winning firm that specializes in professional services in architecture, interior design, land planning and construction management. The firm employs a staff of ten at its South Plainfield office. The firm delivers design excellence in public, civic and commercial buildings.

Pictured (left front to right): Firm partners Robert M. Longo, AIA, Robert F. Barranger, AIA and Michael G. Soriano, AIA, receive a special proclamation from Borough Council President Derryck C. White.
Pictured (left front to right): Firm partners Robert M. Longo, AIA, Robert F. Barranger, AIA and Michael G. Soriano, AIA, receive a special proclamation from Borough Council President Derryck C. White.


Robert M. Longo, AIA Named to AIANJ Task Force


In the aftermath of the Avalon Edgewater Building Fire, the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) has announced the formation of a task force of member architects to review possible improvements to design practices and building codes and standards in order to enhance building safety in New Jersey.  Click on the following link for more information about this task force; AIANJ Blog. Robert M. Longo, AIA is a firm principal and a licensed building code official. Bob also chairs the AIA NJ Building Codes and Standards Committee.

Raymond Chisholm Community Center Youth Wing Grand Opening


On March 21, 2015, the official ribbon cutting and dedication for the Youth Wing was celebrated by Freeholders from Union County, Springfield Township officials, the community center staff, the design team, the builder and community youth groups. The new design and construction features a fully updated Lee Adler Memorial Gymnasium, interactive teen center, group meeting rooms and remodeled rest rooms. The objective of the design solution is to revitalize what was once existing and underutilized interior space, and turn it into a vibrant and active youth center.   The project was financed by the Township of Springfield Capital Improvement Budget and grants from the Union County Kids Recreation Trust Fund.   Project Architect, Donna M. Miller, AIA, was responsible for the architectural design as well as the project management during construction. Pharos Enterprises of South Amboy, NJ preformed the general contractor duties.



Donna M. Miller, AIA Earns NJ Architect License

Cornerstone Architectural Groups’ Donna M. Miller, AIA has just successfully completed all sections of the rigorous Architectural Registration Examination administered by the New Jersey State Board of Architects and NCARB. As a newly Registered Architect in the State of New Jersey, Donna now assumes all of the professional responsibilities of a licensed design professional. Donna has made many very positive contributions in the management of significant design projects over the past five+ years at Cornerstone. She is a project manager, (now Project Architect), overseeing the design, documentation and implementation of designs for several of CAG’s high profile clients. Most notable; SHI, Chelsea Senior Living, Springfield Township, PTC Therapeutics, Foley Inc., and Environ among others. Donna lives in Matawan NJ with her husband Jason and their dog Blue. Donna’s next “Big Project” will be an addition to her family, “expected” VERY shortly!


New Jersey State Board of Architects Member and CAG Principal, Michael G. Soriano, AIA (right) congratulates newly licensed Architect Donna M. Miller, AIA (left) just after the State Board confirmed her licensure at their meeting held on February 12, 2015 in Newark, NJ.