Hillborough, NJ -- Following a massive warehouse fire at Veterans Industrial Park in February, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli is asking to re-examine "sovereign immunity" to make federal property that is used for commercial purposes subject to state and local fire regulations.
"Sovereign immunity" is a legal tenet that shields the federal government from civil suit or criminal prosecution. In the letter to federal lawmakers, Ciattarelli says, "sovereign immunity exemption is a contentious issue in the community." The warehouse fire "brought to light federal regulations that run counter to state and local fire code regulations."
That particular warehouse is owned by the Veterans Administration. They lease it to Quadro Realty who subleases it as a warehouse space. The outdated sprinkler system and fire hydrants provided inadequate water pressure for firefighters while trying to subdue the blaze.
"While a federally owned and operated property may be inspected and cited for fire code violations by local officials, it is not subject to enforcement/compliance due to soveraign immunity. In the case of Veterans Industrial Park, the exemption extends to the private leasing company and commercial enterprise tenants," the letter stated.
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