Fires are one of the most destructive forces on Earth. Keep your tenants safe and your buildings compliant with NYC law by following these 6 steps to make your buildings fire-safe.
1. Post a current Fire Emergency Preparedness Guide, as well as a Building Information Notice in a prominent place in the building.
In accordance with NYC fire guidelines, these documents must also be distributed to all tenants in the building every three years. The documents can be transmitted via email, but the building owner must hand-deliver the documents to any tenant whose email bounces back, or who requests a paper copy. In addition, beginning in October 2019 or January 2020, owners will also need to distribute the FEP Bulletin, a new annual publication which supplements the FEP Guide and will be published on August 15th of every year.
The Fire Department has also developed The Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Planning Checklist which they have proposed to be required to be distributed by all building owners in an identical manner as the Guide. The Checklist will inform residents about the availability of evacuation-assistance devices and other means of evacuation. It will also outline practical measures that individuals with disabilities or limited mobility can take to prepare to safely evacuate a building in case of emergency, such as identifying neighbors who can provide assistance. While this addition has not yet been legalized, it’s important to know that it has been proposed and will likely be passed into law.
2. Create an evacuation plan
Every building should have a clear and well-known evacuation plan in place in case of a fire. To facilitate a smooth exit from your building, all exits must be marked clearly and free of obstruction.
The Fire Department of NYC recommends including the following instructions in your evacuation plan:
- Stay calm. Do not panic.
- Notify the fire department as soon as possible.
- Flames, heat and smoke rise, so a fire below your apartment generally poses a greater threat than a fire on a higher floor.
- If caught in heavy smoke conditions, get down on the floor and crawl. Take short breaths and breathe through your nose.
- Close the door to the room containing the fire and leave the apartment.
- Make sure everyone in the apartment leaves together with you.
- Close, but do not lock, the apartment door.
- Alert neighbors by knocking on their doors as you leave.
- Use the nearest stairwell to exit.
- DO NOT USE THE ELEVATOR.
3. Post a notice in a conspicuous location in your building which instructs all tenants to close all doors behind them when escaping a fire.
All tenants should know that when escaping a fire, it is crucial that one close all doors behind them to keep the fire and smoke as contained as possible.
The Fire Department has proposed a new regulation to establish the exact design and content of such a sign and to require the sign to be posted in lobbies and on the side of stairwell doors that is visible to the public.
The proposed notice would read as follows:
In a Fire, Close All Doors Behind You!
Keep Fire and Smoke Out of Building Hallways and Stairs.
Keep Apartment and Stairwell Doors Closed at All Other Times.
Protect Your Neighbors and Your Home!
The message would be accompanied by an image of an open door, with flames behind it.
4. Invest in emergency lighting.
Emergency lighting, which provides illumination even when the electric power of a building is compromised or cut by the Fire Department during a fire, can be a crucial factor in enabling tenants to escape a burning building. When the lights go out and the entire building goes dark, people are more prone to panic and will have a more difficult time getting out. Emergency lighting will help them find their way towards the closest exit as quickly as possible.
5. Check your sprinkler system.
According to Local Law 26 of 2004, as of July 1st, 2019, all buildings in NYC of 100 feet or more must be fitted with a full sprinkler system. By now, your sprinkler system should be fully installed and your Sprinkler Compliance Report should have been submitted to the DOB.
Sprinklers need regular inspections to ensure they are always in perfect working order. It’s best to visually inspect your sprinklers for external signs of deterioration once a month and to have them professionally inspected once a year.
Keep a record of your sprinkler installation and maintenance checks on hand for routine inspections by the Fire Department.
6. Install and maintain smoke detectors.
The responsibility of installing carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and smoke detectors (SD) is shared by NYC landlords and their tenants.
According to NYC law, owners of multiple dwelling units are required to:
- Provide and install at least one approved CO alarm and SD in each dwelling unit.
- Provide written information about how to test and maintain these smoke detectors.
- Replace any CO alarm or SD upon the expiration of its useful life or when it has been stolen, removed, is missing, or rendered inoperable before a new tenant moves in.
- Ensure that the installed CO alarm is equipped with an end-of-life alarm.
Although you are not required by law to install CO alarms and SDs in every room of your units, you may choose to do so anyways. Early detection of a fire can help mitigate the damage it can cause.
Don’t let your compliance go up in smoke! If you’re worried about complying with NYC’s fire safety laws, we can help. Give us a call at 718-855-6110 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your full compliance is our only goal.