house fire caused by mulch

NJ Fire Code – New Mulch Section

We have received calls from a few of our members regarding a recent change to the NJ Fire Code. With the help of our lobbying firm, we spoke to NJDCA Fire Chief Lou Kilmer who stated the following:

The following are part of the new regulations as it pertains to not placing mulch within 18 inches of certain dwellings:

The new fire code regs for mulch do not take effect until April 15, 2025, or exactly one year from the date they were approved (April 15, 2024):

When the regs take effect on April 15, 2025, the following are exempted:

  • One (1) and two (2) family owner-occupied dwellings that are solely residential;
  • Most Condo’s and townhomes that are classified as R3, R4 & R5; and
  • Buildings made of concrete, such as warehouses.

The Chief indicated that the regs are part of the 2015 International Fire Code. The state started the process of adopting this code statewide either just before or during COVID. The Chief further indicated that no landscaping groups were contacted by the Department during the process and that they were trying to find groups like the NJLCA to reach out to explain the new regs. The Chief said that because the regs are adopted for safety, insurance issues and most importantly to save lives, since we have had fires in the state resulting in multiple deaths, it would have been next to impossible not to adopt the 2015 International Fire Code into state regulations.

Finally, the Chief said that the NJ Department of Community Affairs is creating a PowerPoint presentation over the next 45 days and would like to present it to the NJLCA at its June meeting.

Read the Adopted Fire Code (See section 305.6. Landscape Materials)

If you have any questions, please let us know and we will get answers from Chief Kilmer and include them in an upcoming eblast.