Township introduces smoke alarm measure

12 May, 1986 (~estimated)

Township introduces smoke alarm measure 

By Kathleen Cannon
Staff Writer 

A “near tragedy” at Redding Circle last year spurred Princeton Township officials Monday night to introduce a code mandating smoke detectors in township houses and apartments. 

Scheduled for passage on public hearing June 2, the law mandates the installation of battery-powered or dual electric and battery-powered smoke detectors in township dwellings by Sept. 1, 1986, according to Township Committeeman Thomas Poole, who introduced the measure last night. 

Mr. Poole said currently, there are no laws requiring smoke detectors in single-family houses but was unclear what the state requires for apartments. 

The proposal, would be “an important improvement in fire safety” and “is long overdue in the township,” he said. He cited a fire at the township apartment complex last summer when an electric smoke detector did not sound following a power outage.

A dual-powered detector, he maintained, would have prevented the “near tragedy” when, after the outage, a tenant lit candles that caused a fire. 

Specifically, the code would mandate that all existing dwellings, except for some rental units, be equipped with battery-powered smoke detectors. For rental complexes of more than 10 units, the code would require dual-powered alarms, Mr. Poole said. 

For those rental complexes under 10 units, only a battery-powered unit would be required, he said. 

This provision “eliminates what could be a hardship for someone who may be just renting the second floor of their house. Dual smoke detectors could be expensive,” the committeeman said. 

Committee members also considered, then rejected, a provision that would mandate dual-powered detectors in rehabilitated houses. Committeeman Poole had suggested that dual-powered detectors be installed in any house that is increased in size by more than 5 percent by an addition. But the committee decided against that clause. 

Mr. Poole said the dual-powered smoke detectors decrease the risk of loss of life or property from a fire because they have a backup power source. If the battery goes dead, the electric power can take over; if there is a power outage, the detector can still be activated by the battery. 

He said he also included the provision for dual-powered detectors for rental complexes over 10 units because he anticipates many more larger complexes being built in Princeton Township. He predicted developers will build rental complexes to help the township comply with the state Supreme Court’s Mount Laurel ruling, which mandates towns to provide opportunities for affordable housing.

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