Wind and Few Sprinklers Cited in NJ Boardwalk Fire’s Rapid Spread

Sprinkler systems in at least two buildings may have spared them from the Seaside (NJ) boardwalk fire Thursday, but many of the older, wooden structures likely perished because of the wild wind and a lack of modern fire-protection systems, reports The Daily Journal.

Many of the burned buildings were erected before current standards — now requiring firewalls and other measures to reduce the chances of a fire breaking out and spreading — took effect, according to Jack A. Purvis, a Wall architect and president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

“The chances of a fire occurring are less … if a building’s built to current code, and because of the techniques used today, the chances of a fire, if it does start, spreading from building to building would be limited,” he said.

But “the biggest problem they had down there (Thursday) was the wind,” Purvis said. “The wind was blowing everything north. I give the firemen a lot of credit (for) how they got that under control.”

Brian Gabriel, Ocean County’s chief fire coordinator, said a few buildings had sprinkler systems, but they needed to get water from the borough’s water system, which was being taxed by the firefighters to get water into hose lines.

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