BELMAR, NJ — To ensure the safe application of shrink-wrap to boats in storage, Belmar officials are requiring the owner of Seaport Inlet Marina to submit a formal procedure for the “hot work” operation.

The requirement comes three months after a marina worker was using an open-flame torch when the plastic material accidently ignited, causing a fire that quickly spread to 12 boats and prompted an evacuation of the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Although no one was injured, the incident has heightened concern among from residents living next to the marina and prompted the borough to ensure safety measures are in place to guard against this type of occurrence again.

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During a reinspection of the facility earlier this week, Belmar Fire Marshal Ryan Dullea found 23 of 29 violations have been corrected, leaving the shrink-wrap protocol and site plans for both seasonal and winter operations — including the number of vessels being stored at any given time — as the only major items needed for approval.

Under the shrink wrap protocol, any “hot work” is prohibited in the boat racks and two fire extinguishers are required in the immediately vicinity where the work is being performed, Dullea told the Belmar Council at its May 4 meeting.  

Since the annual Fire Prevention Bureau inspection was performed on April 11 uncovering the 29 violations, marina owner Robert Gerzsenyi has been working with the fire marshal to bring the facility into compliance. “The owner has called me five or six times,” Dullea said. “He has been very cooperative and much has gotten done very quickly.”

Numerous steps have been taken to address fire safety concerns, including:

  • Better delineating with yellow paint the fire lane that runs from the marina’s main driveway on Fifth Avenue to the riverfront.
  • Storing propane tanks in enclosed cages and paint in fireproof cabinets.
  • Installing lighted exit signs in the office and garage area.
  • Repairing holes in ceilings and replacing faulty extension cords.
  • Moving boats at least 15 feet from an adjoining residential property line.
  • Removing boat motors from along the property’s fence.
  • Purchasing $5,000 worth of new fire extinguishers.
  • Updating N.J. Uniform Fire Code permits for the usage of torch devices and propane.

Gerzsenyi also plans to make a nearly $100,000 investment to install a sprinkler system on the facility’s boat racks.

At the borough council's May 4 meeting, Molly Spanarkel of Terrace Road thanked Belmar officials for improving safety conditions at the marina, which sits on the banks of the Shark River — sandwiched between residential homes and the new Riverwalk at Belmar, a three-story building of condominiums and professional offices that stands at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street.

“You’ve followed through and I hope you will continue to do so, so that (the facility) remains safe,” Spanarkel said, adding that she and her neighbors would like regular inspections of the marina.

While Dullea expects to reinspect the facility on May 11 as part of the annual inspection, he said he could perform additional inspections to ensure ongoing compliance, if complaints are received.

Meanwhile, the borough council has directed Borough Attorney Greg Cannon to draft changes to current borough law for boat storage to include standards for commercial marina operations.