Avalon Bay adding fire protection in new construction projects

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Avalon Bay adding fire protection in new construction projects after Edgewater fire
Carolina Leid reports from Edgewater.

EDGEWATER, N.J. (WABC) -- The developers of an apartment complex that went up in flames are trying to prevent a repeat of the horrific tragedy.

The developers are saying they will no longer use the legal, but inexpensive materials they used in the complex in Edgewater.

As the out of control blaze raged on, Eyewitness News stood shoulder to shoulder with residents who lost everything, and many are still asking how these apartments could go up in flames so quickly and easily.

The developer, Avalon Bay, said Wednesday night that its next projects in Princeton and Maplewood, New Jersey will voluntarily go above and beyond safety codes.

"I'm glad to hear that they've learned from what's happened here in Edgewater and are deciding to be progressive in thinking; building a better apartment complex after what happened here and the history with the Avalon," said Emmanuel Hernandez, a Weehawken resident.

Last month's fire at the Avalon in Edgewater burned buildings to ground, raising safety questions coupled with concerns about construction standards.

Avalon Bay says it will add fire protection systems for 235 apartments in Maplewood and 280 units in Princeton in an effort to meet national standards.

The buildings will have more sprinklers, including in the attics, closets, and between ceilings and floors.

It will also install masonry firewalls which are not required for these building types under current state codes.

"I just really hope they're doing everything they are saying, because what happened here was truly awful. It was an absolutely devastating fire," said Rhiannon Madden, a West New York resident.

Some posed the questions, should construction codes be tougher given what happened here.