NJ Legislation Could Affect Cold-Formed Steel
As a result of a fire, proposed legislation in New Jersey could adversely affect the use of cold-formed steel framing. The Steel Framing Industry Association, AWCI and AWCI’s New Jersey chapter, the Drywall and Interior Systems Contractors Association Inc., are organizing a campaign to change the language in the proposed bill from “Light Weight Construction” to “Combustible Construction.” Although this issue currently affects only New Jersey, it is something other states need to be aware of. Read on.
Background. On Jan. 22, the 4-story wood-framed Avalon at Edgewater apartment complex in New Jersey burned to the ground after a plumber’s torch ignited the wood framing in a wall cavity. On Feb. 12, New Jersey Assemblyman Scott Rumana put forward a bill that would impose a moratorium on the use of “Light Frame Construction” for apartments for up to two years while new rules are adopted (https://legiscan.com/NJ/bill/ A4195/2014).
Problem. The New Jersey Uniform Building code defines Light Frame Construction as “a type of construction whose vertical and horizontal structural elements are primarily formed by a system of repetitive wood or cold-formed steel framing members.” (Section 5:23-3.14). So, while the target of the bill is wood, the use of cold-formed steel is clearly at risk.
Cause. In New Jersey, legislation is drafted by the Office of Legislative Services at the direction of an assemblyperson or senator. According to Assemblyman Rumana, the person who drafted the bill used the language in the code that most obviously pointed to wood framing. He has said his objective is to ensure the safety of occupants and firefighters and said that he’s open for amendments and changes that ensure the bill is correct.
AWCI will work with SFIA and continue to follow this issue.