In 2018, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) reported 27,053 structural fires which included residential high-rise buildings in New York City. Following the numerous fires that devastated residential buildings, the Fire Department has proposed amendments to the Fire and Emergency Preparedness Guide and Notices.
The new amendments aim to prevent the spread of fires throughout a building and minimize underlying fire causesby enforcing strict guidelines for residential high-rise property owners and property management companies.
Proposed Amendments to the Fire and Emergency Preparedness Guide, Checklist and Notices
Local Law 114, in consultation with the New York City Department of Emergency Management (NYCEM) and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), has directed the Fire Department of New York to develop the following amendment:
· The FDNY must assist with a specialized emergency plan checklist.
The aim of the checklist is to provide assistance in the development of individual emergency evacuation plans for residents with disabilities or limited mobility. The checklist will be provided to apartment building residents which will inform them of evacuation assistance devices or alternative means of evacuation. The emergency plan checklist will also include recommended evacuation measures that residents with disabilities or those with limited mobility can take in the event of an emergency.
The amended Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Planning Checklist should complement the New York City Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide.
Per Local Law 115, owners of multiple dwellings must post public notices to reduce the spread of a fire.
· Fire and Emergency Preparedness Notice requirement – “Close the Door” rule.
“The close the door notice is intended to provide a clear, visible reminder to building residents of the importance of closing each door as one exits one’s apartment and building during a fire.” Public hallway corridor doors and stairwell doors must be kept closed at all times. When escaping a fire, residents must close all doors behind them. This amendment aims to contain building fires.
Why should doors be closed at all times?
Fires have become more dangerous than ever before. Contemporary layouts, synthetic building materials, and certain home furnishings have allowed fires to spread more easily. The release of toxic fumes enables a fire to spread through a building, depending on the area size, in three minutes or less. By keeping doors closed, toxic smoke levels are reduced, oxygen levels improve, temperatures decrease, and the spread of a fire is slowed down. This can potentially give residents enough time to flee the fire.
Apart from adhering to the “Close the Door” amendment, it is the responsibility of the residential high-rise property owner to ensure that the building is fire code compliant to keep residents safe.
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