Detector law could save lives, homes

The Princeton Packet 

12 May, 1986 (~estimated)

Detector law could save lives, homes 

Princeton Township may join Princeton Borough in offering an additional measure of safety with an insistence on smoke detectors in all dwellings after Sept. 1. 

The Township Committee this week introduced an ordinance that would require each dwelling unit to have a smoke detector. The ordinance goes beyond state regulations requiring the detectors in apartment buildings of 10 units or more. 

The committee’s proposal, different versions of which have been put in place in as many as 16 other New Jersey towns, requires detectors in all apartments and homes. It requires at least battery-operated units in private homes or buildings with a few apartments and electrically-operated detectors with a battery backup in larger multiple-unit buildings. 

The impetus to Princeton Township’s proposed ordinance was an accidental fire at a local apartment complex when an electric-powered alarm failed to sound due to a power failure. The apartment’s resident survived, but the potential for tragedy was real. 

Princeton Borough enacted its version of the smoke detector requirement in 1985, spurred by efforts of the Princeton Fire Department and by the memory of a resident who had died in a fire several years before, a resident who may have been saved had a smoke detector given him an early warning. 

The law — if people will only follow it faithfully — offers residents that extra warning which could be the difference in saving their lives, their home, or both. The Township Committee should not hesitate to approve the ordinance at its final reading on June 2. 

There is no reason other towns should not join in requiring this basic level of safety in their residents’ homes and apartments. 


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