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Does the Avalon Fire Merit a Crackdown on Wood-Framed Multifamily Construction?

JLC examines the issue

A massive fire at the construction site for New Jersey's Avalon at Edgewater apartments has prompted suggestions that there should be a two-year moratorium in the state on using lightweight wood framing for multifamily housing in the state. That has prompted our sister publication, The Journal of Light Construction, to note:

The suggestion of freezing all wood-framed multifamily projects until the state could review the safety of the current building codes seemed premature at best, given the fire investigation report has still not surfaced. Or was it some kind of a diversion? Video coverage of the fire showing how quickly the fire spread through the apartment attics suggests that the code-required fire separation between units did not extend through the attic to the underside of the roof sheathing. Such an assertion is only conjecture, but it's hard to imagine the fire met any kind of barrier given its rapid spread through the attic.

The rate of fire spread through the attic of the AvalonBay apartments makes one wonder if the prescribed fire walls actually extended through the attic, as required by code.

JLC then summarizes many of the basic rules for ensuring fire safety in a wood structure like Avalon, including whether there are legitimate reasons for New Jersey to go beyond its current code. Read more


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