EDGEWATER - The New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects created a special task force in order to educate legislators in how to prevent a devastating fire.
The task force was formed after several bills proposed in the aftermath of the Edgewater Avalon fire failed to pass.
“There was a lot of misinformation that was getting thrown around,” says AIA New Jersey President Justin Mihalik.
The task force’s first recommendation is to require certain walls to be fire-rated and then marked properly so crews will know to be extra cautious around them. The second is to require sprinklers in ceilings and crawl spaces.
Mihalik does admit that the sprinkler requirement will come with an increased cost.
“When we consider a cost to add in terms of a life safety measure and even a resiliency measure…you have a better chance of saving the structure of the building,” he says.
The AIA also suggests that New Jersey adopt a rule that construction projects use a third-party inspector that can be used throughout the process of building a new structure. New York City has a similar rule.
"Construction is complex. It is easy to miss certain things, and having a second set of eyes is something that can be a benefit,” Mihalik says.
Mihalik also says that the answer to safer buildings is to update buildings codes and not an overhauling bill.
The Avalon company says that although it is not currently required, all of their new buildings will have additional fire sprinklers and will use masonry walls.