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Welcome to the Westampton Township Emergency Services Bureau of Fire Prevention!  

As the Fire Official in Westampton Township, I am the person charged with enforcing the NJ Uniform Fire Code, Township Ordinances, and all other applicable regulations and laws in all properties within the boundaries of Westampton Township.  In certain circumstances, owner occupied one and two family dwellings also fall under the jurisdiction of the Fire Official. I have a staff of 10 certified fire inspectors who work in the Bureau and perform inspections each month throughout the township. The fire code does require the Fire Official to be notified of all fires and explosions within the township, which includes residential buildings, and charges the Fire Official to investigate the origin and cause of the fire.

Within the State of NJ, there are two classifications of registrations for the businesses. The two classes are as follows: Life Hazard Use (LHU) or Non-Life Hazard Use (NLHU). The state has published a registration guidebook that each Fire Official uses to classify a new or existing registration.

In our town we have a mixture of both Life Hazard uses and Non-Life Hazard uses. Let me give you an example of each: An example of an LHU would be Hampton Inn Hotel on Rt. 541 at Hancock Lane. An example of a NLHU would be Dunkin Donuts at Rt. 541 and Woodlane Rd.

The Fire Code has a fee schedule set for the LHU registrations and the Township has a square foot fee ordinance for the NLHU businesses. The operation and funding of the Bureau of Fire Prevention is paid for 100% from the inspection fees collected. No individual homeowner tax dollars pay for this operation. 

Application of the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code (NJUFC) is one of the many and varied services provided by your fire departments in Westampton. More importantly, it is a provision of service to which the “consumer public” or general citizenry is entitled. In order to better understand the NJUFC, a review of the events leading up to its enactment is imperative. 

The State of New Jersey, along with the rest of the Nation, experienced an exceptionally large number of fires and fire deaths during the 1960’s, 1970’s and into the 1980’s. In addition to significant fires and fire deaths in New Jersey’s larger cities, two major fires with multiple fire deaths occurred in municipalities within Monmouth County. The Brinley Inn fire in Bradley Beach on July 26th, 1980 resulted in the deaths of 24 people and the Beachview Rest Home fire in Keansburg on January 9th,1981 resulted in the deaths of 31 people. These tragedies were a major impetus, which led to enactment of the Uniform Fire Safety Act on November 12, 1983. State Senator John P. Caufield, who was also Director of the Newark Fire Department at the time, was one of the primary proponents of this legislation. 

The purpose of the Uniform Fire Safety Act was the creation of a Fire Safety Commission whose responsibility was to ensure that all areas of the State are protected by a uniform, minimum fire safety code so that the lives and property of the State’s citizens are guarded against the hazards presented by fire. Pursuant to enactment of the Uniform Fire Safety Act and the efforts of the Fire Safety Commission, the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code was adopted on February 19, 1985. The State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety oversees its application. 

The NJUFC, in addition to regulating fire safety inspections throughout the State, also governs mandatory requirements for firefighter training, firefighter instruction, firefighting equipment, fire investigations, and the management of fire and related emergency incidents, etc. Regarding fire safety, the NJUFC is essentially divided into two separate areas. The Fire Prevention Code, which was enacted as part of the NJUFC on February 19, 1985, and the Fire Safety Code, which was enacted as an addition, to the NJUFC on June 16, 1986. The Fire Prevention Code regulates the proper maintenance of existing fire protection features of an occupancy; whereas the Fire Safety Code addresses retrofit requirements in which modifications must be made to address the lack of fire safety in an occupancy. The most recent example of a retrofit requirement is Governor Whitman’s signing into law on July 5, 2000 the “Sprinkler Bill” which requires all public and private colleges and boarding schools to install sprinklers. This law was enacted in response to the unfortunate and tragic deaths of Seton Hall University students as a result of a fire in their dormitory on January 19, 2000. Some other aspects of the NJUFC are as follows:

• Certificates of Smoke Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Alarm, and Portable Fire Extinguisher Compliance (CSACMAPFEC) – prior to the sale, lease or change of occupancy of a residential dwelling unit, a CSACMAPFEC must be obtained. This certification attests to the fact that working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are properly located in residences. On April 14, 2005, Acting Governor Richard Codey signed legislation that requires single-, double-, and triple-occupancy homes be equipped with fire extinguishers upon sale, lease, or transfer. 

• Windowless Basements – requires firefighter access openings, of specific dimensions, to provide entry into a below grade area; if an access opening is not of the required dimension, a fire detection system or fire suppression system is required. This section of the NJUFC was enacted due to the death of a New Jersey Firefighter in a basement fire lacking an appropriate access opening as well as a fire detection system or a fire suppression system. 

• Truss Placards – requires structures of truss construction to be identified as such by having an emblem of a bright, reflective color and in the shape of a triangle affixed to them. This section of the NJUFC was enacted to alert firefighters to the truss construction of structures after the deaths of five New Jersey Firefighters in the collapse of a truss constructed structure involved in fire on July 1st, 1988. 

• Amusement Buildings – all structures that are designed to disorient, reduce vision, present barriers or impede the flow of traffic (such as haunted houses or houses of terror) are to be equipped with fire detection and suppression systems as well as various other fire safety provisions. Once again, this section of the NJUFC was enacted after a tragedy, the deaths of several teenagers in a haunted house in a New Jersey amusement park on May 11th, 1984. 

• Fire Safety Permits (FSP’s) – a FSP is required in order to maintain, store or handle materials, or to conduct processes which produce conditions hazardous to life or property, or to install equipment used in connection with such activities. Some examples for which a FSP is required include the use of a torch, welding or cutting operations, discharging of fireworks, fumigation, bonfires, etc. 

• General Fire Safety – pertains to a multitude of issues, which are specifically addressed within the NJUFC. This includes maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems, fire extinguishers, means of egresses, storage and housekeeping, electrical safety, heating appliance safety, cooking appliance safety, etc. 

The NJUFC is extremely detailed and as a result, it requires competent fire inspectors to interpret and apply. Prior to becoming a fire inspector, an individual must become certified as a fire inspector and in order to become certified, appropriate coursework must be satisfactorily completed and a passing grade on an exam attained. In addition, once certified, the fire inspector must complete required continuing education training on an annual basis. Furthermore, if a fire inspector knowingly fails to perform his duty as imposed by the NJUFC, he or she can be held criminally liable. 

Over the years the fire code has helped lower the number of actual fires across the state. The code is a tool to be used to prevent fires and make the businesses and places of assembly safe for employees, visitors and the emergency personnel who may have to respond to an incident at an individual business. Prior to the enactment of the Uniform Fire Safety Act, it was up to each municipality to create and enforce their own local fire code. There were many inconsistencies between municipalities and numerous safety related issues were not addressed. An advantage of having one Uniform Fire Code throughout the State of New Jersey is that it helps to consistently provide a minimum level of fire safety to all people of New Jersey regardless of where they are located.

What to expect during a fire inspection?  The inspector will introduce him or herself, present identification and inform you of the purpose of the inspection, i.e., annual fire inspection.

The inspector will ask you for any required paperwork such as a sprinkler and/or fire alarm inspection report.

The inspector will then proceed to inspect the entire occupancy. A representative of the occupant is requested to accompany the inspector. The representative should have keys or other methods to access all areas to facilitate the inspection. During the inspection, the inspector will point out violations and corrective requirements.

The most common violations found are:

  • Failure to maintain fire protection systems and their required reports.
  • Exit and emergency lighting out
  • Exits and exit paths blocked, locked, inaccessible Fire extinguisher annual inspection due
  • Poor housekeeping, excess rubbish
  • Merchandise stacked too high, unstable piles Improper use of extension cords
  • Fire doors chocked open
  • Improper storage of propane
  • Utility access blocked (gas meters, electrical panels) Range hoods and ducts not cleaned
After the inspection is complete you will receive a written report of all violations found and an "Notice of Violation and Order to Correct" notice. Normally you will have 30 days to correct all violations. In the case of certain serious violations, you may be given a shorter time period, typically 7 days to correct the serious violation. If the violation is deemed to be an "Imminent Hazard" , the premises may be closed down until the hazard is corrected. The Bureau will re-inspect on or about 30 days after issuance of the violation notice. It is expected that all violations will have been corrected at that time. Failure to correct all violations may result in the issuance of a penalty. If all violations have been corrected, a "Certificate of Inspection" will be sent to you to be posted.

In conclusion, the citizenry of the State of New Jersey is indeed fortunate, that fire safety is regarded as such a serious matter and therefore, we are all entitled to a minimum, acceptable level of fire safety as well. The Westampton Township Bureau of Fire Prevention is always available to answer any questions or offer fire prevention related information. Please contact my office anytime at 609-267-2041, Option 3 for the Fire Marshal or by email at firemarshal@wtes.us. Thank you and practice fire safety each and every day.

Fire Marshal

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Westampton Emergency Services
780 Woodlane Road
Westampton, NJ 08060
Emergency Dial 911
Non-Emergency: 609-267-2041
E-mail: info@westamptonfire.org
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