Publication Date: Spring 2000
FIRE DEPARTMENT PRESENTS RULES
FOR RESIDENTIAL FIRE SAFETY PLANS AND SPRINKLER TEST REQUIREMENTS
Tragic and preventable loss of life in two high rise fires in 1998 vividly illustrated the urgent need to make New Yorkers better aware of what to do in the event of a fire in a high rise building. In response, the City Council held hearings on fire safety and passed Local Law 10 of 1999 which required the Fire Commissioner to promulgate rules regarding fire safety plans and notification. Rule 3 RCNY Section 43-01 took effect April 13, 2000. It provides detailed instructions and model documents for compliance with this law.
FIRE SAFETY PLANEffective in 2000, every residential building -- including cooperatives and condominiums -- must prepare a fire safety plan, following a model prepared by the Fire Department. This plan must be distributed annually to all the occupants and service employees of the building either during the first week of October, which is Fire Safety Month or with the window guard notice in January. The plan must also be distributed to every new building occupant and every new building employee. It must be revised and redistributed within 60 days of any material change in building conditions affecting it. Records of distribution must be maintained; acceptable documentation includes a U.S Postal Service certificate of mailing or, for hand delivery, dated and signed receipts. The Fire Department may inspect these building records at any time and should be presented with copies of the last five annual fire safety plans.
The fire safety plan shall consist of two sections: a building information section and a fire emergency information section. The Fire Department has provided a complete text for the fire emergency information section with variations for combustible and non-combustible (fireproof) buildings. These include Emergency Fire Safety and Evacuation Instructions presented on page 11. The building information section shall include:
a) the address of the premises (a separate fire safety plan shall be prepared for each building or space, except for buildings or spaces that have common means of egress)
b) the name of the building owner and the name and address of the building owner's representative.
c) the number of floors in the building and any below ground levels.
d) the year the building was constructed.
e) whether the building is of combustible or non-combustible construction.
f) whether the space is equipped with sprinklers.
g) whether the space is equipped with a fire alarm system.
h) whether the space is equipped with a public address system.
i) all means of egress from the building and their general location.
j) the date the fire safety plan was prepared.
The fire safety notice shall serve to inform building occupants, service employees, and visitors about procedures to be followed in the event of fire in the building. Fire safety notices must also be prepared, posted in a conspicuous location near any common mailbox area or near the elevators or main stairwell and distributed to every apartment. These notices must be laminated or framed under a clear plexiglass cover to protect them from wear and tear.
Apartment residents are responsible for posting the Fire Safety Notices on the inside of their front doors. There is no requirement to inspect or to verify that residents maintain their fire safety notices on their doors, but, if a resident requests a replacement notice, this must be provided, although a reasonable charge can be levied.
SPRINKLER TESTING ALSO REQUIRED
The City Council did not required installation of sprinklers in existing residetial buildings. However, it noted that buildings that do have sprinklers often failed to maintain them in optimal condition. Thus it instructed the Fire Department to establish expanded requirements for regular testing of existing systems, to ensure that they are operational. Accordingly, the Fire Department has promulgated Rule 3 RCNY Section 37-06 setting forth these expanded protocols, which became effective on April 2, 2000. To obtain copies of these new Rules and the appendices containing all necessary forms, contact the Fire Department at (718) 999-FDNY.