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, AIAICC Code Codes IBC IRC, NJUCC