April 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Berkeley Heights VFW Post 6259 Commander Walter Gloss filed a letter of appeal to the Union County Construction Board of Appeals for a Fire Code Violation classifying VFW Post 6259 located at 15 Locust Avenue as a "Group A-2 Nightclub" which requires the installation of an automatic fire alarm system.
A Notice of Violation and Order to Correct was issued on July 28, 2013 by Berkeley Heights Fire Official Mike Ambrose. The Fire Code Violation cited the referenced building and classified it as a "Group A-2 Nightclub with an occupant load of 100 or more that are not otherwise required to have an automatic fire alarm system."
Gloss filed a letter of appeal on March 8, 2014 providing facts of why he believes the VFW Post 6259 Meeting Hall area in violation was incorrectly classified as a "Group A-2 Nightclub." This classification could set a precedent across the state.
The New Jersey Administrative Codes (N.J.A.C) cites nightclubs as occupancy greater than 100 and includes all buildings and spaces of public assembly, designed for use as dance halls, nightclubs, and eating and/or drinking establishments, and similar occupancies, in which the established maximum permitted occupant load affords less than 12 square feet net area per occupant.
According to documentation submitted with Gloss' letter, the space in violation is a 720 square foot area. The occupancy load for this space, by N.J.A.C. definition, is 60 people. (720/12)
The VFW rents the Meeting Hall area to ACI Entertainment who presents local bands 12 to 14 times a year. Each band plays for approximately one hour and then they leave the building, along with their followers; and the next band enters to play.
The attendance at these events is taken by ACI Entertainment. On average, 52 total guests attend per event with 71 guests being the highest count. This attendance falls below the N.J.A.C. guidelines that would classify the building use as an "A-2 Nightclub."
The State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Bureau of Fire Code Enforcement issued a Life Hazard Use Certificate of Registration for the VFW Post 6259 identifying the "maximum permitted occupancy of 50 or more but fewer than 100 persons." The VFW complies to this requirement said Gloss.
The VFW Post 6259 appeal is scheduled to be heard in the near future.