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New fire regulations for 2019, are they open to interpretation 
April 20, 2019
New fire regulations for 2019, are they open to interpretation  
            There are some new fire regulations that went into effect in NJ as of January 1, 2019.  Apparently, anyone who is selling a home and has only battery-operated smoke alarm must replace them with a type that has a 10 year sealed battery. That would be all well and good, except for two things. 
            First, according to the 2019 edition of NFPA72, a one year (non-sealed) battery is still acceptable.  I called the NFPA on Friday and confirmed that and instructions to homeowners selling their homes from LAHJ offices only say that the smoke alarms cannot be more than ten years old.  But now, people trying to sell their homes have a fire inspection and it fails because the smoke alarms do not have ten-year sealed batteries.  So they have to run out and purchase all new smoke alarms, even if they replaced them this year.  (The stores are still selling off their inventory of the older devices, and aren't telling anyone.)  
            Secondly, these fire inspectors are not reading their own regulations.  Anyone in the Burg/Fire business installs photo-electric SMOKE DETECTORS, not smoke alarms.  They do NOT come under the same regulations as inferior smoke alarms.  And if they are part of a monitored burg/fire system DO NOT have to have ten-year sealed batteries.  
            I had two customers who are selling their homes fail the inspection for the above reasons.  Fortunately for the one customer, he called me right away and I responded to the home.  I explained the difference to the inspector, but he still didn't accept what I showed him.  He went back to his office and came back an hour later and apologized.  So the customer did pass the inspection.  That was last week.
            Yesterday, I had a customer in a different town go through the same nonsense.  They didn't call me.  I got an email from the homeowner last night who was rightfully upset. 
            As installation professionals, we are held to a much higher standard than the public.  We are expected to know the fire codes, the public is not.  But you would think that the fire inspectors would be as well versed in the codes, instead of just reading the first sentence in a paragraph and then failing the inspection.  
            I embrace many of the changes in the fire codes, as they help to keep everyone safer.  If I'm going to be held to a higher standard, shouldn't the guy being paid to inspect my work be held to an equally high standard?
            As always,
John from NJ 
            The 10 year smoke detector rule has been implemented in other jurisdictions besides NJ.  NY for one.  I am sure others.
            I’m not technical.  Do the fire experts out there agree with John or is he unnecessarily fighting city hall?

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301