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N.J. company eager to pitch plan for fireproof boardwalk — again

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A firefighter takes a break while battling the fire at the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.
A firefighter takes a break while battling the fire at the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J. on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. - (Governor's Office / Tim Larsen)

In January, New Jersey-based Summit Reliance Group proposed rebuilding the Sandy-ravaged Seaside Heights boardwalk with concrete construction panels, but the town decided to rebuild with traditional wooden planks.

The six-alarm blaze that ravaged Seaside Park on Thursday was a reminder, though, that while wooden boardwalks are nostalgic, they're also flammable.

As this section of the Shore looks to again rebuild itself, Summit CEO Steven Maimon hopes this time, municipal officials take a closer look at concrete.

During the bidding process to rebuild the Seaside Height boardwalk, Maimon said he met with Seaside Heights officials who "were interested in our proposal, but they were not as familiar with concrete — and there was a lot of pressure to do the traditional wood boardwalk."

He noted that had the boardwalk been concrete, it would not have burned during the massive fire, which consumed at least 30 boardwalk businesses.

Summit CEO Steven Maimon

"Concrete doesn't burn," Maimon said.

To halt the spread of the fire, crews ripped out an undamaged portion of the wooden boardwalk to create a trench that helped stop the conflagration — a step that would have been avoided had the boardwalk been concrete, Maimon said.

Summit Reliance has a proprietary system of making concrete panels, called StructCrete. The panels are fabricated at the construction site, with concrete poured into molds to create steel-reinforced, concrete-ribbed panels.

Maimon said a key advantage of Summit's technology is speed; he estimated it would take four to six weeks to rebuild the fire-damaged Seaside boardwalk with StructCrete panels. He said those panels also could be used to rebuild the businesses destroyed by the fire.

Maimon said concrete panels can be fabricated to look like wood.

"Colors and patterns and textures can be put into the concrete during the casting process. It will have a wood grain, and look like wood panels," he said.

Coming Monday: Steven Maimon hopes his technology can be used in places looking to build quickly, whether in fast-growing countries like India or areas looking to rebound from environmental disasters, like the Jersey Shore. Read NJBIZ next week for the full story.

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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