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Fire Department
Codified Title: 
Title 3: Fire Department

Proposed Rules: Open to Comments

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Agency:
Comment By: 
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Proposed Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

The Fire Department proposes to adopt this rule to implement the provisions of Local Law No. 103 of 2019 regarding hurricane evacuation notices and to require apartment building owners to take certain actions to ensure compliance with the requirement of fire safety notices on dwelling unit doors.

The Fire Department is re-noticing this proposed rule for public comment on changes to the rule made in response to the public comments received on the rule as it was originally proposed.

Hurricane Evacuation Notices

Local Law 103 requires apartment building owners (Group R-2 buildings and occupancies) within a hurricane evacuation zone, as designated by Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management (now New York City Emergency Management or NYCEM) to post a hurricane evacuation notice in a common area of the building. The notice is intended to inform building occupants of the current hurricane evacuation zone designation for the building and the means by which building residents can determine the closest hurricane evacuation centers, namely by calling 311 or viewing the online Hurricane Evacuation Zone finder operated by NYCEM. The law provides that “[s]uch notice shall be in such form as prescribed by the commissioner by rule and shall be posted within a common area of the building and such other locations as set forth in the rules.”

Fire Department rule 3 RCNY § 401-06 sets forth emergency preparedness requirements for apartment buildings. The proposed rule would amend Section 401-06 to require the posting of the hurricane evacuation notice in a conspicuous location in the building lobby at street level, either near the main building entrance, in the mailbox area or by the elevators or main stairwell.

The proposed rule prescribes that the notice take the form of the hurricane evacuation notice posted on NYCEM’s website and that it be affixed to the wall by adhesive or in a frame, displayed in an enclosed, locked bulletin board, or otherwise durably and securely posted.

Fire Safety Notices

Fire and emergency preparedness notices (entitled “Fire Safety Notices”) are required to be posted on the interior side of dwelling unit doors. The posting of this notice has been required for almost 20 years.

The Fire Department does not ordinarily inspect dwelling units and therefore does not have a means to enforce replacement of missing or damaged notices. When it has found missing or damaged notices, owners have maintained that the rule does not clearly require prompt replacement of the notices.

To address these issues, the Fire Department proposes to amend Section 401-06 to require building owners and cooperative or condominium association board of directors, or their representatives, to:

• inspect each dwelling unit at least once every three years to confirm the presence of the notice, and to replace missing or damaged notices whenever the owner or the owner’s managing agent or building staff become aware of a missing or damaged notice, or, in apartment buildings with a cooperative or condominium form of ownership, require the apartment owner to post the replacement notice provided by such board; and/or

• obtain written certification from the tenant or apartment owner that the notice has been posted by delivering to each dwelling unit a form for completion and return to the owner or board that includes a statement from the Fire Department regarding the importance of the notice.

Public Comment and Fire Department Response

Three major organizations representing residential building owners and managers submitted comments objecting to the inspection requirement that owners inspect apartments for compliance with the longstanding requirement that a fire safety notice be posted on the back of each dwelling unit door. Comments were also submitted with respect to the requirements for the hurricane evacuation notice.

• Hurricane Evacuation Notice

Comment: Tenants would be better informed if the fire and emergency preparedness guide for apartment buildings (which is entitled “NYC Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide”) and evacuation/emergency preparedness checklist indicated that the hurricane evacuation zone could be found on a notice in the building lobby.

Response: The suggestion is a good one. Consideration will be given to revising the Guide and checklist for the next distribution cycle. In the interim, building owners are free to reference the hurricane evacuation notice in the “other information” section on the building-specific Building Information Section that accompanies the Guide and checklist.

Comment: We urge the Fire Department to consider the consolidation of apartment building notices with other notices required by the agency in an effort to reduce the "wallpapering" of common areas in apartment buildings. The reality for apartment building owners, particularly for less sophisticated, smaller owners, is that maintaining and keeping track of the extraordinary number of notices required by the City, and protecting those notices from vandalism, is an extremely burdensome task.

Response: We are sympathetic to this concern. We appreciate that other City agencies have signage requirements but we cannot adjust those requirements. This Fire Department rule requires three lobby postings: the Building Information Section that accompanies the Guide, a copy of the fire safety notice posted in the apartments, and now the hurricane evacuation notice. The Fire Department has no objection to a single posting consolidating these requirements, provided it is legible and understandable. Building owners and/or their associations should contact the Fire Department through the Fire Code public inquiry form on the Fire Department website to obtain appropriate guidance.

• Fire Safety Notice Inspection

Comment: Apartment shareholders/unit owners receive ample instruction regarding building emergency protocols from the distribution of the Guide and other emergency preparedness information.

Response: The implication of this comment is that the posting of a fire safety notice in each apartment is unnecessary. The Fire Department begs to differ. When faced with a fire in one’s building, with smoke filling the public hallway corridors, not everyone will have the presence of mind to remember the instructions provided in the Guide, or the time to search for documents with instructions. Apartment residents who complete the evacuation/emergency preparedness checklist and given thought in advance to what actions they will take will be better prepared, but there is no substitute to having evacuation/shelter in place instructions posted right on the apartment door.

Comment: The rule should clarify how building owners should maintain records of the apartment inspection and indicate how these requirements will be enforced.

Response: Agreed. Section 401-06(e)(6)(C)(1) of the proposed rule has been revised accordingly.

Comment: When the requirements for fire safety notices were first promulgated, it was acknowledged that shareholders and unit owners often have strong feelings about the decor in their homes, and therefore it was required that boards of housing cooperatives and condominiums simply distribute these notices to these resident owners, provide replacements when requested and post the notices on any rental units that were under the control of the cooperative or condominium. We know of neither problems nor complaints that have arisen with this practical system in the intervening decades.

Response: Preferences for apartment décor cannot supersede interests of public safety. There is reason to believe that there is a lack of compliance with the posting requirement and hence the reason for this amendment. However, the Fire Department has attempted to balance the burden of compliance by allowing certification of compliance by the shareholder/unit owner (see below).

Comment: The rule should not make the fire safety notice inspection requirement applicable to cooperatives and condominiums. The obligation to inspect should fall on the shareholder/unit-owner rather than the board. Shareholder/unit owners are better positioned than the Board or managing agent to conduct such an inspection. Other City laws require these individuals – rather than boards or managing agents – to conduct inspections.

Response: In light of the comments indicating that apartment residents (whether rental tenants or shareholder/unit owners) should be responsible for fire safety notice compliance, we have revised the proposed rule to allow certification by the tenant/shareholder. Apartment building owners and managers will be required to inspect an apartment unit only if such certification is not timely received. See Section 401-06(e)(6)(C).

Comment: With the COVID-19 crisis, this is not the time to impose a new mandate for intrusive inspections into individual apartment.

Response: We understand the concern associated with apartment inspections at this time. Accordingly, we have revised the rule to require the fire safety notice inspection once every three years and timed to coincide with the distribution of the Guide and related documents. Accordingly, the obligation to conduct inspections (for apartments that have not submitted certifications) would not arise until after April 2022.

New text is underlined. Text proposed to be deleted is [bracketed].

“Shall” and “must” denote mandatory requirements and may be used interchangeably in the rules of this department, unless otherwise specified or unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

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Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:22)

Agency:
Comment By: 
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Proposed Rules Content: 

STATEMENT OF BASIS AND PURPOSE

The New York City Fire Department is responsible for approving the installation of fire alarm systems, including inspecting and witnessing an acceptance test of such systems. If, upon such inspection and testing, Fire Department personnel finds that the fire alarm installation is not in compliance with the New York City Building Code, New York City Fire Code, NFPA Standard 72 or other applicable laws, rules, regulations or approvals, a notice of defect (currently referred to as a “letter of defect”) is issued to the owner and applicant setting forth such defects.

In many cases, the defects are relatively minor and can be corrected by the applicable licensed professional – a fire alarm system installer or an electrician – without undue delay. Currently, however, there is no procedure for accepting certification of the correction of such defects by a licensed professional, as is done for Fire Code violations cited by FDNY Summonses (formerly known as Notices of Violation) returnable before the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Acceptance of the corrected defects – and issuance of a Letter of Approval for the fire alarm system – must await a re-inspection by the Fire Department.

New York City has been currently experiencing a construction boom and the number of requests for Fire Department inspections of fire alarm system installations is constantly increasing. The Fire Department has not been able to keep up with the demand for re-inspections and there are now substantial delays in scheduling them. This can result in significant delay costs for owners, as well as delaying payment to the companies that perform the work. The Coronavirus emergency compounded the problem and increased the backlogs.

To address these issues, the Fire Department proposes to establish a certification program by which licensed professionals may certify correction of certain fire alarm system defects. The certifications will be filed with and reviewed by the Fire Department, and if accepted, will eliminate the need for a re-inspection and expedite issuance of a Letter of Approval.

To ensure the integrity of this process, the proposed rule includes the following limitations and protections:

• Not all fire alarm system defects may be certified as corrected by licensed professionals. Defects considered to be more serious, and minor defects if too numerous, would remain subject to Fire Department re-inspection. The proposed rule lists the prerequisites for certification, including a list of defects excluded from the certification program.

• All certifications would have to be submitted by licensed professionals, namely, fire alarm installers, professional engineers and registered architects, who are licensed by New York State, and electricians, who are licensed by the NYC Department of Buildings.

• All of these licensed professionals would additionally have to hold a Fire Department Certificate of Fitness pursuant to Fire Code Section 113 and be a principal or employee of a company holding a Company Certificate pursuant to Fire Code Section 115. This would serve to ensure that if any licensed professional abuses their ability to certify correction of fire alarm system defects they are subject to Fire Department disciplinary action.

• At least two licensed professionals would be required to certify correction of the fire alarm system defects: the licensed professional(s) who corrected the defect (a fire alarm installer and/or an electrician, depending on the type of work that is required to correct the defects); and a licensed professional (professional engineer, registered architect, fire alarm installer or electrician) who verifies that the system is functioning properly based on an in-person functionality test. The proposed rule elaborates upon what the certification of correction of defects represents in terms of the work done and verification thereof. (There is one exception to the two-signature rule: when there are no defects in the design or installation of the fire alarm system, but as built plans and/or other forms or documentation required to correct and complete the application have not been filed. A single signature is required in this circumstance because the required documentation itself must be signed and sealed by licensed professionals.)

• All certifications are subject to audit. The Fire Department maintains an audit program that would professionally audit the certification program and determine whether any false or fraudulent certifications had been submitted. Any licensed professional who engages in such misconduct is subject to a wide range of penalties, including those applicable to Company Certificate holders and Certificate of Fitness holders, as set forth in Fire Department rules 3 RCNY 115-01(i) and 113-01(g).

The Fire Department proposes to adopt a $210 administrative fee for processing the certifications. This represents the time spent in reviewing the certification and administratively processing correction of the defects or, if the certification is not accepted, processing the response setting forth the grounds for denial.

The Fire Department additionally proposes to amend Section 115-01 of its rules to incorporate the company certificate for fire alarm installation, inspection, testing and servicing company certificate into the list of company certificates set forth in that section, including the special qualifications required for that company certificate.

The Department did not include this proposed rule in its FY2020 regulatory agenda because the need for such rule was not anticipated at the time.

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Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf): 

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Final Rule

The Fire Department adopts this rule to implement certain provisions of Local Law No. 187 of 2017.
The local law regulates hookah establishments, businesses that provide water pipes (hookah), heated by charcoals and containing non-tobacco products, for on-premises smoking. One goal of the law is to minimize the risk that hookah pipes and charcoals may contribute to the creation of fire hazards.
The local law amended the Fire Code to allow smoking on the premises of these businesses, and requires that such businesses obtain permits from the Fire Department and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). The local law also enacted Fire Code Section 310.7, which established, or authorized the Fire Department to establish, fire safety requirements for the storage of charcoal; the preparation, handling, use and disposal of lighted charcoal; and the handling and use of smoking paraphernalia. The local law also requires that persons holding Fire Department Certificates of Fitness supervise such activities, and mandates provision of portable fire extinguishers and flameproofing of decorations.
This rule implements the requirements of Local Law 187 and prescribes fire safety measures for the use of combustibles in non-tobacco hookah establishments by:
• specifying the types of ovens or other heating devices that may be used to heat the charcoal and maintain lighted coals, and related ventilation to exhaust the heat and gases generated by the lighted coals;
• detailing the manner for safe storage of charcoal, and providing several options for indoor and outdoor storage;
• requiring noncombustible surfaces in the charcoal preparation area and in the smoking area;
• prescribing the manner for safe handling of lighted charcoal and the disposal of spent charcoal and other combustible waste;
• prohibiting flammable and combustible liquids in the preparation of lighted charcoal, either as a fuel or an accelerant; and
• requiring the installation of carbon monoxide alarms.
The rule requires non-tobacco hookah establishments to have on-premises staff obtain a Certificate of Fitness by January 1, 2021, and comply with other operational and maintenance requirements by October 1, 2020. Such establishments are required to comply with the design and installation requirements of the rule (including any necessary improvements to the oven and ductwork) and to obtain a Fire Department permit by October 1, 2021.

Effective Date: 
Wed, 07/01/2020

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments

Agency:
Comment By: 
Friday, May 15, 2020
Proposed Rules Content: 

Notice of Extension of Time to Comment on Proposed Amendments to Fire Department Rule
3 RCNY 401-06 (Fire and Emergency Preparedness Guide, Checklist and Notices)

As a result of the present Coronavirus emergency, no public hearings are presently being conducted on proposed rules. It is not known at this time when they will resume.

The Fire Department also recognizes that the emergency has disrupted ordinary business operations.

Accordingly, to ensure that the public and affected building owners have an opportunity to review this proposed rule, the Fire Department is extending the time to comment on the proposed amendments to Fire Department rule.

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the time for submitting comments on the above proposed rule amendments is hereby extended from April 16, 2020, to FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2020. Comments may be submitted through the NYC Rules website, by email or by mail. Persons wishing to make a verbal statement can submit comments in standard video and audio formats, subject to size limitations, by emailing them to the email address below.

Any questions may be directed to the Code Development Unit of the Bureau of Fire Prevention by emailing code.develop@fdny.nyc.gov.

Contact: 

No contact

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:1)

Agency:
Comment By: 
Friday, May 15, 2020
Proposed Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

The Fire Department proposes this rule to implement the provisions of Local Law No. 103 of 2019 regarding hurricane evacuation notices and to require apartment building owners to periodically inspect the fire safety notices on dwelling unit doors.

Hurricane Evacuation Notices

Local Law 103 requires apartment building owners (Group R-2 buildings and occupancies) within a hurricane evacuation zone, as designated by Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management (now New York City Emergency Management or NYCEM) to post a hurricane evacuation notice in a common area of the building. The notice is intended to inform building occupants of the current hurricane evacuation zone designation for the building and the means by which building residents can determine the closest hurricane evacuation centers, namely by calling 311 or viewing the online Hurricane Evacuation Zone finder operated by NYCEM. The law provides that “[s]uch notice shall be in such form as prescribed by the commissioner by rule and shall be posted within a common area of the building and such other locations as set forth in the rules.”

Fire Department rule 3 RCNY §401-06 sets forth emergency preparedness requirements for apartment buildings. The proposed rule would amend Section 401-06 to require the posting of the hurricane evacuation notice in a conspicuous location in the building lobby at street level, either near the main building entrance, in the mailbox area or by the elevators or main stairwell.

The proposed rule prescribes that the notice take the form of the hurricane evacuation notice posted on NYCEM’s website and that it be affixed to the wall by adhesive or in a frame, displayed in an enclosed, locked bulletin board, or otherwise durably and securely posted.

Fire Safety Notices

Fire and emergency preparedness notices (entitled “Fire Safety Notices”) are required to be posted on the interior side of dwelling unit doors. The posting of this notice has been required for almost 20 years.

The Fire Department does not ordinarily inspect dwelling units and therefore does not have a means to enforce replacement of missing or damaged notices. When it has found missing or damaged notices, owners have maintained that the rule does not clearly require prompt replacement of the notices.

To address these issues, the Fire Department proposes to amend Section 401-06 to require building owners to inspect each dwelling unit at least once every two years to confirm the presence of the notice, and to replace missing or damaged notices whenever the owner or the owner’s managing agent or building staff become aware of a missing or damaged notice. In apartment buildings with a cooperative or condominium form of ownership, the cooperative or condominium association board of directors shall cause such inspections to be conducted, and, if the notice is missing or damaged, require the apartment owner to post the replacement notice provided by such board.

This proposed rule was not included in the Fire Department’s FY2020 regulatory agenda because the need for it was not anticipated.

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Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments

Agency:
Comment By: 
Thursday, February 6, 2020
Proposed Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

 

The Fire Department proposes to adopt this rule to implement certain provisions of Local Law No. 187 of 2017.

The local law regulates hookah establishments, businesses that provide water pipes (hookah), heated by charcoals and containing non-tobacco products, for on-premises smoking.  One goal of the law is to minimize the risk that hookah pipes and charcoals may contribute to the creation of fire hazards.

The local law amended the Fire Code to allow smoking on the premises of these businesses, and requires that these businesses obtain Fire Department and Health Department permits.  The local law also enacted Fire Code Section 310.7, which established, or authorized the Fire Department to establish, fire safety requirements for the storage of charcoal; the preparation, handling, use and disposal of lighted charcoal; and the handling and use of smoking paraphernalia.  The local law also requires that persons holding Fire Department Certificates of Fitness supervise such activities, and mandates provision of portable fire extinguishers and flameproofing of decorations.

The proposed rule implements Local Law 187 and otherwise prescribes fire safety measures for the use of combustibles in non-tobacco hookah establishments by:

·        specifying the types of ovens or other heating devices that may be used to heat the charcoal and maintain  lighted coals, and related ventilation to exhaust the heat and gases generated by the lighted coals;

·        detailing the manner for safe storage of charcoal, and providing several options for indoor and outdoor storage;

·        requiring noncombustible surfaces in the charcoal preparation area and in the smoking area;

·        prescribing a manner for the safe handling of lighted charcoal and the disposal of spent charcoal and other combustible waste;

·        prohibiting flammable and combustible liquids in the preparation of lighted charcoal, either as a fuel or an accelerant; and

·        requiring the installation of carbon monoxide alarms.

The proposed rule would require non-tobacco hookah establishments to have on-premises staff obtain a Certificate of Fitness by June 30, 2020, and comply with other operational and maintenance requirements by April 30, 2020.  Such establishments would be required to comply with the design and installation requirements of the rule (including any necessary improvements to the oven and ductwork) and obtain a Fire Department permit by April 30, 2021.

Sections 489 and 1043(a) of the New York City Charter, and Section FC310 of the New York City Fire Code (Title 29 of Administrative Code of the City of New York) authorize the Fire Department to propose this rule.

The entire rule is underlined to indicate that it is a new rule.

“Shall” and “must” denote mandatory requirements and may be used interchangeably in the rules of this department, unless otherwise specified or unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

Subject: 

Proposed New Fire Department Rule 3 RCNY 310-03 Hookah Establishments

Location: 
Fire Department Auditorium
9 Metrotech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Contact: 

No contact

Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf): 

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Final Rule

 

The Fire Department adopts this rule to implement the provisions of Local Law Nos. 114 and 115 of 2018.

 

Local Law 114 directed the Fire Department to develop, in consultation with the Department of Emergency Management (NYCEM) and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), an emergency planning checklist.  This checklist is to be provided to apartment building residents, including individuals with limited mobility or other disabilities or special needs, to assist in the development of individualized emergency evacuation plans.  It informs residents about the availability of evacuation assistance devices and other means of evacuation.  It also outlines recommended measures that individuals with disabilities or limited mobility can proactively take to prepare to safely evacuate a building in case of emergency, such as identifying neighbors who can provide assistance in an emergency.

 

The Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Planning Checklist (“Checklist”) developed by the Fire Department, in consultation with NYCEM and MOPD, is designed to complement the New York City Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide (“Guide”) adopted effective October 1, 2018, and required to be distributed by apartment building owners to apartment building residents and staff by April 30, 2019.  The form and content of the Guide and the requirements for its distribution are set forth in Fire Department rule 3 RCNY §401-06.

 

The rule amends Section 401-06 to set forth the form and content of the Checklist and, in accordance with Local Law 114, requires its distribution in the same manner as the Guide.  Following the initial distribution of the Checklist, it is to be distributed with each subsequent Guide distribution.  The Checklist would also be posted on the Fire Department’s website, with the Guide and other emergency preparedness forms and notices.

 

Local Law 115 directed the Fire Department to require owners of multiple dwellings to post a notice in conspicuous locations indicating that those escaping a fire should close all doors behind them.

 

When escaping a fire, an apartment resident and the members of their household should close all doors behind themselves, including all doors within the apartment through which they exit.  At all other times, public hallway corridor doors and all stairwell doors should be kept closed (except, of course, when using it to enter or exit the apartment or floor).

 

Some stairwell doors, and some public hallway corridor doors serving as fire and smoke barriers, are held open by a magnetic device that releases when a smoke detector on the floor activates.  Such doors will close automatically, provided that there is nothing blocking them.  Such doors do not have to be kept closed, but once they are released by the fire alarm system they should be allowed to close.

 

The rule establishes the design and content of a “Close the Door” notice and require its posting on the public hallway side of stairwell doors.  The notice is to read:

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 is visually reinforced by an image of a door ajar, with flames behind it.  The final rule includes the image to be reproduced and both versions of the sign, in color; slightly modifies the size of the sign and image; and clarifies the lettering and background requirements.  The final rule also clarifies that the notice must be maintained by promptly replacing any missing or damaged postings.

 

Public Comment and the Fire Department’s Response

 

The Fire Department received limited public comment on the proposed rule.  The comments focused on the need for the emergency preparedness/evacuation checklist and the manner of its distribution, and the placement of the Close The Door notice.

 

The Fire Department responds to the public comments as follows:

 

·        Comment: The checklist is unnecessary and should be distributed only to those persons who express an interest in receiving it.

 

Response: Local Law 114 required distribution of the checklist to apartment building residents (“residents in group R-2 occupancies”) “in conjunction with fire code emergency preparedness requirements for apartment buildings.”  The distribution set forth in the rule is in compliance with the Local Law mandate.

 

·        Comment:  Requiring distribution of the checklist with the New York City Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide, which is a large item, would increase postage costs on building owners.  The checklist instead should be distributed with the annual fire and emergency preparedness bulletin.

 

Response:  Local Law 114 specifically provides that thechecklist be “included in the emergency preparedness guides required by the fire code to be distributed to the residents of such building.” The checklist is intended to be read with the Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide and the accompanying Building Information Section and accordingly it would not accomplish the purpose intended by the City Council in enacting Local Law 114 to have it regularly distributed on a different distribution cycle, with the annual bulletin.

 

The initial distribution of the checklist will coincide with the distribution of the first annual fire and emergency preparedness bulletin, but this is solely because of the timing of the rule.  In future distribution cycles, the three items – Guide, Building Information Section and checklist – should be mailed together.

 

·        Comment:  The distribution of the checklist should be put off until 2021.

 

Response: The Fire Department has determined to require the initial distribution of the checklist (for the 2019/2020 cycle) by April 30, 2020.  Six months is a reasonable amount of time to arrange a mailing.

 

·        Comment:  Posting of the Close the Door notice in the lobby mailbox or other common area is not necessary given that the signs will be posted on the stairwell doors.  The lobby is already cluttered with many other required signs.

 

Response:  The Fire Department has determined that the posting of the Close the Door notice on stairwell doors is adequate to accomplish the purposes of the local law.  The lobby posting requirement has been omitted from the rule.

Effective Date: 
Fri, 11/15/2019

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Final Rule

 

The Fire Department adopts this rule to establish standards, requirements and procedures for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of outdoor stationary storage battery systems that use various types of new energy storage technologies, including lithium-ion, flow, nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries.  The rule does not govern indoor battery installations.

 

Background and Purpose

 

In April 2018, a working group coordinated by the City University of New York and the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, in which the Fire Department participated, issued the first comprehensive set of guidelines for installing outdoor lithium-ion energy storage systems in New York City, to create a pathway for safe widespread use of lithium-ion stationary storage battery systems.  This rule implements those guidelines through fully-developed design and installation requirements and emergency management procedures for outdoor stationary storage battery systems.  (The standards, requirements and procedures set forth in this rule represent the considered judgment of the Fire Department, not CUNY, NYSERDA or other working group participants.)

 

This rule also seeks to address the fire safety concerns associated with new battery technologies by setting testing standards and establishing an equipment approval process for manufacturers.  Establishing testing standards, and in particular, requiring full-scale testing of battery system components and pre-engineered products, will enable manufacturers to identify fire safety issues and eliminate them or engineer mitigating measures in the design.  The evaluation of the performance of battery system components or products in this manner will also allow the Fire Department to eliminate or expedite its approval process for specific installations.  Equipment approvals will allow developers and installers to select products that are already approved for New York City use, with or without conditions or limitations.

 

Evolution of Battery Use and Technology

 

Stationary storage battery systems are commonly used in office buildings and other commercial buildings to provide emergency or standby power for life safety systems, or uninterruptible power for business operations.  The storage batteries commonly used for these applications are lead-acid batteries similar to those found in automobiles, the science and safety of which is well-understood.

 

The movement to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources to address global environmental concerns has prompted the rapid development of new energy storage technologies. In recent years, new storage battery technology has been developed for large-scale power uses, such as storing power for general building use.  The batteries can be charged overnight or during other low-demand periods, and provide building power during the daytime.  Additionally, stationary storage batteries can be used to store power generated by rooftop solar panel installations and other local, small-scale energy generating systems.  The power generated by these systems, when not needed on site, can supply power to the public utility’s power grid.

 

Because of their energy density (high-energy generation considering the battery’s size and weight), lithium-ion batteries are increasingly being used in a wide range of applications, including consumer products.  However, lithium-ion batteries are subject to thermal runaway, which occurs when the heat generated by a malfunctioning energy cell or module causes others to fail, potentially generating intense fires and fires that reignite after being extinguished.  Various highly-publicized incidents have illustrated the fire safety concerns associated with lithium-ion batteries.  In addition to lithium-ion, the new stationary storage battery technology includes nickel-cadmium, nickel metal hydride and flow batteries.  This rule applies to these technologies as well.

 

Testing and Listing Standards

 

The Fire Department has been actively engaged for several years in the development of appropriate standards for stationary storage battery systems. Working with national standard-making organizations, nationally-recognized testing laboratories and Federal, State and City agencies, the Fire Department has advocated for the testing of new technologies that would enable the Fire Department and other regulatory agencies to fairly assess, in a scientific manner, any potential hazards associated with the new technologies.

 

The rule requires the use of the current edition of the Underwriters Laboratories Test Method 9540A for full-scale testing, but the Fire Department is aware that these testing standards, like the technologies themselves, are still in development. The rule acknowledges the evolving standards by specifying the latest listing and testing standards, but authorizing the Fire Department to accept later editions or other standards that address the Fire Department’s fire safety concerns.  Also under development is a new listing standard that will be used to establish listings with installation conditions based on test data.  The rule anticipates that when such listing standard is developed, and approved by the Fire Department and the Department of Buildings, it will replace the existing listing and testing standards and the Fire Department’s equipment approval process, and supersede required separation distances to the extent addressed in the new listing.

 

Regulatory Requirements

 

The rule regulates outdoor stationary storage battery systems based on their technology and size.  Table 1 establishes thresholds for small, medium or large outdoor stationary storage battery systems. The size of the stationary storage battery system is based on the energy storage/generating capacity of such system, as rated by the manufacturer, and includes any and all storage battery units operating as a single system.

 

Table 2 lists the compliance requirements in the rule and indicates, in a readily accessible format, the requirements applicable to each size, and in some cases type, of battery system.

 

The fire safety regulations in the rule include the following requirements:

 

·        Permits.  The rule requires a Fire Department permit for medium and large outdoor stationary storage battery systems.  Operational permits ensure that the Fire Department and its firefighting force are aware of the location of the stationary storage battery systems and can conduct periodic inspections as the Fire Department determines appropriate.

 

·        Supervision.  The rule requires that all outdoor stationary storage battery systems be under the general supervision of a trained and knowledgeable person holding a Fire Department Certificate of Fitness.  The Fire Department anticipates that installers or other persons associated with the design or installation of the stationary storage battery system would be the persons qualified to supervise such systems.

 

A Certificate of Fitness requirement helps ensure that installers and other businesses involved in stationary storage battery systems – who may be new to New York City – are familiar with New York City regulatory requirements, and the Certificate of Fitness holder can serve as a point of contact with the Fire Department.  The rule requires the Certificate of Fitness holder to assist the Fire Department in any emergency involving or affecting the stationary storage battery system that the Certificate of Fitness holder supervises, including responding to the incident location in a timely manner to confirm that the stationary storage battery system is in good working order, or to mitigate the condition and decommission the stationary storage battery system.  The rule anticipates that the required emergency management plan would be developed by manufacturers, installers and, in some cases, property owners, to address how such situations would be handled.

 

Certificates of Fitness are obtained by studying the online study materials applicable to the particular certificate and submitting to administration of a computerized examination at Fire Department Headquarters.  Test results are immediately available, and if a passing score is achieved, the certificate is issued on the spot.  The fee for most Certificates of Fitness is $25 for a 3-year period.

 

·        Multiple battery systems.  The rule requires Fire Department review of multiple outdoor stationary storage battery systems on a single premises to ensure that the fire safety requirements for larger stationary storage battery systems are not being circumvented by a number of smaller systems.

 

·        Mobile battery systems. Stationary storage battery systems are typically fixed, not portable.  However, stationary storage battery systems can be mounted on trailers and towed to locations, in the same way as air compressors, diesel-fueled emergency generators, and other mobile power and heating trailers.  The rule allows mobile stationary storage battery systems and make appropriate adjustments in the approval and permitting process.

 

·        Installation approvals.  It is anticipated that only large stationary storage battery systems will require site-specific installation approvals.  The rule sets forth the information that will be required for such applications, including any related Department of Buildings applications, Fire Department equipment approvals for stationary storage battery units or components, and site plans.

 

·        Commissioning/decommissioning.  The rule requires that outdoor stationary storage battery systems be installed or removed only by trained and knowledgeable persons.  The Certificate of Fitness holder assuming responsibility for the battery system must supervise its commissioning (activation) and the Certificate of Fitness holder responsible for the battery system must supervise its decommissioning (deactivation).  The Fire Department anticipates that these will be the same businesses and individuals who will be responsible for maintaining the system once installed and who will be required to obtain a Certificate of Fitness.

 

The rule requires notification to the Fire Department in connection with the commissioning and decommissioning of these outdoor stationary storage battery systems.  For small battery systems, the owner or Certificate of Fitness holder must report the commissioning of a battery and provide the name and contact the Certificate of Fitness who will be responsible for this system.  No advance notice is required.  For medium and large systems, advance notice must be given to the Fire Department by calling a Fire Department communications office, so Fire Department firefighters or other representatives can, if they wish, attend the commissioning to familiarize themselves with these installations.  The removal of any stationary storage battery system experiencing abnormal temperatures or gas emission readings as a result of physical damage, exposure to fire or other cause of failure, must be coordinated with the Hazardous Materials Unit of the Fire Department’s Bureau of Operations.

 

·        Design and installation requirements.  The rule sets forth general design and installation requirements, including Fire Department access and water supply, and separation distances from streets, building openings, overhead power lines, infrastructure and other sensitive locations.  The rule authorizes the Fire Department to reduce separation distances if the full-scale testing results show minimal hazards, or increase them if there are hazards that have not been addressed by the manufacturer in engineering of the stationary storage battery system.

 

The Fire Department anticipates that medium and large outdoor stationary storage battery systems will be housed in containers and other enclosures.  Malfunctioning stationary storage battery systems can generate flammable gases and the enclosures in which they are housed could allow these gases to collect and reach dangerous levels.  Accordingly, the rule requires that the enclosures be designed with fire and gas detection systems and other fire protection systems, explosion protection and a manual exhaust system for firefighter use.  In some cases, these requirements may be omitted when testing of the battery system demonstrates that such systems are not required to mitigate the potential hazards.

 

·        Rooftop installations.  The rule allows the installation of stationary storage battery systems on building rooftops, but includes requirements designed to address the fire safety concerns associated with rooftop installations.

 

·        Remote monitoring and reporting.  The Fire Department understands that all outdoor stationary storage battery systems will be designed with a battery management system (BMS) that will be remotely monitored on a 24/7 basis.  The rule requires such remote monitoring to ensure timely notifications to the Fire Department, Certificate of Fitness holder and manufacturer of the battery if the stationary storage battery system exhibits abnormal behavior indicative of a serious malfunction.

 

·        Emergency management plan and technical assistance.  The rule requires that the property owner, manufacturer and/or installer develop an emergency management plan or protocol that includes procedures for notifications, technical assistance and response to the incident location in the event of an emergency involving or affecting an outdoor stationary storage battery system.

 

·        Signage.  The rule requires detailed signage indicating the type of stationary storage battery system, providing emergency contact information, and other information at the fire department (hose) connection, public utility connection or other conspicuous location.  The signage must also indicate whether the battery system is connected to a public utility power grid, such that its shut-down could have widespread or power grid impacts.

 

·        Maintenance.  The rule requires periodic inspection of the outdoor stationary storage battery system, on not less than an annual basis, by the Certificate of Fitness holder to ensure that the battery system is in good condition and all signage and other requirements remain in place.  The rule also clarifies that the replacement of battery components with different battery technologies or chemistries (or other change to the listed components) constitutes an alteration of the system that must be submitted for Fire Department review and approval in accordance with the requirements of the rule.

 

·        Recordkeeping.  The rule requires that records of the installation, maintenance and removal of the outdoor stationary storage battery system and associated equipment must be maintained by the Certificate of Fitness holder and/or the property owner.

 

Public Comments and the Fire Department’s Response

 

Twenty public comments were received.  Most included detailed comments on lithium-ion battery technology and the various requirements of the rule.

 

Virtually all of the public comments received, both in writing and at the public hearing, expressed support for the rule as a critical step in establishing a regulatory framework for evaluating and approving outdoor stationary storage battery systems.  Virtually all the comments also expressed support for the adoption of industry standards and battery system testing.

 

The public comments confirmed that the party who would be responsible for maintenance of stationary storage battery systems and therefore most likely to obtain the required Certificate of Fitness and serve as the Fire Department point of contact would likely be the installer, not building staff.  Battery systems are in many cases being leased, not sold, or are under service agreements.

 

The Fire Department responds to the public comments as follows:

 

·        Comment: The rule uses the term “stationary storage battery system” rather than “energy storage system,” which is the generally-accepted industry term and used in NFPA Standard 855.

 

Response: “Stationary storage battery” is this term currently used in the Fire Code.  The Fire Department will address whether to adopt new industry definitions – including those in NFPA Standard 855, which is still in the development process – through the Fire Code revision process.

 

·        Comment: The rule uses the term “full-scale” to refer to testing of batteries.  The generally-accepted industry term for such testing is “large-scale.”

 

The Fire Department acknowledges that “large-scale” is now widely used.  However, “full-scale” more clearly describes the testing that the rule (and the listing standards it references) require to be conducted.  Accordingly, the Fire Department has determined to retain the term “full-scale” testing in the rule.

 

·        Comment: What is meant by “other approved listings” or “other approved data.”  Why doesn’t the rule specify what those other standards are?

 

Response: “Approved” is a defined term in the Fire Code (see FC202).  It means “acceptable to the commissioner.”  The term is used to indicate that the Fire Code requirement must be satisfied in a manner acceptable to the Fire Department.  In most cases, no special approval is needed.

 

The references in the rule to other “approved” listings or data explicitly authorize the Fire Department to consider and accept listings and data other than those specified in the rule, such as certifications from foreign standard-making bodies, proprietary test results or new standards and listings not yet published.  This explicit authorization is included in the rule in recognition of the fact that energy storage technology is developing very quickly and that is in the public interest to promptly consider new standards, listings, test results and other information as they become available.

 

Similarly, the reference in connection with rooftop installations to an “approved” distance from standpipe hose outlets sufficient to ensure safety of firefighting operations is intended to afford the battery system designer and the Fire Department flexibility in achieving the desired performance objective based on site conditions.  The reference to an “approved” water supply in the absence of a rooftop standpipe means that there must be and reliable water supply to fight a rooftop fire.  Typically, this would be a street fire hydrant or private fire hydrant.

 

·        Comment:  The term “outdoor” should be defined to clarify where the battery systems may be installed.

 

Response: The Fire Code uses the term “outdoor” and gives it its plain meaning – outside of a building or structure – unless specified otherwise.

 

·        Comment: A minimum size threshold should be established for each battery technology.

 

Response: The rule is addressed to stationary battery systems (installations designed for installation and/or use at a fixed location) and does not apply to portable devices, including most common household products.  However, the Fire Department agrees that there is merit to establishing a minimum size threshold.  The rule has been revised to make it applicable only to stationary storage battery systems with an aggregate rated energy capacity of at least two (2) kWh for all battery technologies.

 

·        Comment: It is not necessary to reference UL Standards 1741 and 1973, as they are incorporated by reference in UL Standard 9540.

 

Response: UL9540 is predicated on, and makes reference to, the other standards, but, after a careful reading of the standard, the Fire Department has concluded that the rule should separately reference the other standards

 

·        Comment: The rule should address emergency, standby and uninterruptible systems, not exclude them.

 

Response: Requirements for emergency, standby and uninterruptible systems are set forth in Fire Code Section 608.  Those requirements, which in part have been rendered outdated by technological developments, will be addressed through the Fire Code revision process.

 

However, a stationary storage battery system that provides emergency, standby or uninterruptible power as a secondary function, with the primary function energy storage and supply for other purposes, is subject to the rule.

 

·        Comment: The stationary storage battery systems associated with stationary electric vehicle charging stations are akin to uninterruptible power supplies and should not be regulated by the rule.

 

Response: Agreed, for small and medium battery systems that are a component of individual outdoor motor vehicle charging stations and are used for the purpose of motor vehicle charging.  The scope of the rule has been revised accordingly.

 

·        Comment: The requirement that all buildings be shown on an installation plan is onerous on large sites.

 

Response: Agreed.  The rule has been revised to require all buildings on the premises or within 100 feet, whichever is less.

 

·        Comment: The rule should recognize that lithium-ion phosphate battery technology is less hazardous than other technologies because it is less likely to experience thermal runaway.

 

Response: The Fire Department is not undertaking to select the “best” technology or products.  The testing standards being developed by the industry and adopted by this rule will enable manufacturers, product designers, building owners, public utilities and others to evaluate the performance of the different battery technologies and products, including the consequences of battery failure, and select the technology or product that they conclude is the “best” for their needs. Presumably over time better-performing products will prevail in the marketplace.

 

·        Comment: Must all battery systems have battery management systems (BMS), including small systems?  What requirements apply to BMS monitoring?  Maintaining a staffed facility could be costly.

 

Response: Multiple comments were received reflecting some confusion about how the rule regulates BMS systems and monitoring.

 

It was the Fire Department’s understanding that all stationary storage battery systems, including small systems, were being equipped with a BMS that is (or could be) remotely monitored.  UL9540 listings require a BMS.  However, comment was received that currently, some battery systems are not equipped with a remotely-monitored BMS.

 

The rule requires that all newly-installed stationary storage battery systems have a remotely-monitored BMS.  The Fire Department believes that the widespread use of a BMS, which enables remote monitoring, with or without remote system control and shut-down, is an essential tool to provide early warning of a fire or other hazard.

 

The rule does NOT undertake to regulate BMS monitoring facilities.  It was evident from the public comments and discussion at the public hearing that uniform industry standards and procedures for monitoring battery systems – and the emergency management plans that BMS system monitoring and notifications should trigger to mitigate battery fires and other emergencies – have not yet been established.  It was also evident that there is no uniform industry standard as to failure thresholds requiring emergency notifications. The Fire Department hopes that this rule will prompt development of such standards and procedures.

 

BMS and the facilities that monitor their signals should be designed with a high degree of reliability.  Monitoring facilities should be staffed with trained and knowledgeable persons who can identify and address a potential emergency, either from the facility and/or by making timely notifications on a 24/7 basis to persons who can do so.  If unstaffed, BMS monitoring facilities should be designed to make immediate automatic notifications to trained and knowledgeable persons who can address the potential emergency.  Industry standards for BMS monitoring would promote the development of independent facilities that can monitor different types of battery systems and reduce the cost of such monitoring.

 

What the rule DOES require is that fire protection systems installed in battery system enclosures, including gas detection systems, fire alarm systems and sprinkler systems, be monitored by an “approved central station.”  This is a term of art used in the Fire Code and Fire Department rules to refer to a monitoring facility holding a Fire Department company certificate, which ensures that such facilities meet applicable code, rule and industry standards for equipment and staffing.  Central station monitoring has been required by the New York City Building Code for newly-installed fire protection systems since at least 2008.  Fire protection systems may be additionally monitored at a constantly-attended location at the premises, but such monitoring cannot substitute for central station monitoring unless a modification (variance) is granted by the Fire Department.

 

·        Comment: Fifteen minutes is not a reasonable timeframe for expecting a technical assistance.

 

Response: The Fire Department believes 15 minutes should be a reasonable timeframe to provide a subject matter expert to be available to provide technical assistance to the Fire Department responding to a fire or other incident affecting a battery system.

 

The signage and shut-down control required by the rule will provide Fire Department firefighters with certain key information about the system.  The contact information required to be posted at the premises will enable the Fire Department to contact the BMS monitoring facility and the Certificate of Fitness holder.

 

The BMS monitoring facility staff (or the persons who receive notifications from an automated facility) should be able to provide information about battery readings and what they indicate about battery status, especially as the BMS is monitoring battery performance for purposes other than emergency notifications.  If they are not sufficiently knowledgeable to address more technical questions about the battery’s likely performance and the actions that should be taken to render it safe, the BMS monitoring facility should maintain a notification tree for emergency notifications by which they can reach out to a subject matter expert on a 24/7 basis and arrange for a direct communication with the on-scene Fire Department commander.  Fifteen minutes from an emergency notification (in most cases from the BMS itself or if the battery system condition has not yet been affected, such as from an external fire, from the Fire Department) is a reasonable timeframe to arrange such communication.

 

The Certificate of Fitness holder should additionally be notified, as a response to the premises will be required if the battery system has failed and/or caught fire.  Lithium ion battery systems, for example, have been known to reignite, so appropriate precautions should be taken to de-energize the battery system and/or safely remove the battery system or the damaged components from the premises.  The Certificate of Fitness holder would be expected to manage the situation pursuant to its emergency management plan, once the fire or emergency has been abated by the Fire Department.

 

The rule has been revised to make clear that any battery system that undergoes a serious failure, including one that results in a fire, release of flammable or toxic gas, and/or physical damage, must be removed from service and not be restored to service until it has been evaluated by a trained and qualified person, repaired and tested, and re-commissioned by the Certificate of Fitness holder.

 

Prompt provision of technical assistance will protect the owner’s investment.  In the absence of timely, accurate information, the Fire Department may determine to flood (and permanently damage) a battery system that, for example, is releasing smoke, when no action or more limited action may be warranted by the BMS data or after the BMS monitoring facility has remotely shut down the malfunctioning units.

 

·        Comment: Does each battery unit require a manual shut down or is it sufficient to provide a switch at the inverter that de-energizes the battery system?

 

Response: The emergency shut down control (e-stop) should prevent electrical current from flowing into or out of the battery system.  Ideally, the e-stop should de-energize and render safe all electrical connections to the battery system.  The Fire Department recognizes that these types of battery systems retain significant residual energy and that certain components may remain energized.  The e-stop should de-energize as much of the battery system electrical components and connections as can reasonably be accomplished consistent with the design of the battery system.

 

·        Comment: Secondary power should not be required for battery system controls and safety functions.  Battery systems are designed to power such controls and functions after the battery is shut down.  Alternating current cannot be used to power battery controls and functions operating on direct current.

 

Response: The rule has been revised to forego secondary power for battery system controls and safety functions when the battery systems is designed to keep these controls and safety functions in operation for 30 minutes after battery shut-down.  Secondary power is required for all external fire protection systems and other safety features.

 

·        Comment:  Adopt NFPA 855 with respect to the design of the battery system enclosures.

 

Response: The design requirements for battery system enclosures largely track those of NFPA Standard 855.  As noted above, NFPA 855 is still in development.

 

·        Comment:  Is a sprinkler system required in all circumstances?  Can chemical flame retardant systems be used, or the need for a sprinkler system eliminated entirely based on test results for the battery system?

 

Response: Current data indicates that water-based fire extinguishing systems are most effective at suppressing or extinguishing a battery system fire.  Consideration would be given to approving a non-water system if use of such a system is reflected in the battery system listing.  The listing would be based on approved test results demonstrating the efficacy of the non-water system in suppressing or extinguishing a battery system fire.

 

As the rule states, test results would guide the Fire Department in determining whether to increase or reduce fire safety requirements, including the requirement of a fire extinguishing system.

 

·        Comment:  A gas detection should be required only if UL 9540A test results indicate that off-gassing of flammable or toxic vapors occurs during battery failure.

 

Response: Agreed, as to lithium-ion battery systems.  Table 2 of the rule has been revised to clarify that such systems may not be required based on the hazards disclosed by UL9540A testing.  All other battery technologies require gas detection systems because of their potential to generate such vapors during normal operation.

 

·        Comment: Does the rule allow stationary storage battery storage enclosures (such as shipping containers) to be stacked?  What separation distance must be maintained?

 

Response: The Fire Department has determined to consider these issues on a case-by-case basis, as part of the installation approval process, or through a certificate of approval process.

 

While the desire to stack containers is understandable in an urban environment, enclosure design requirements (including deflagration venting and purge systems) and the need for firefighter access to each container, make stacking more complicated than simply lifting them and placing them on top of each other.  The Fire Department will consider any such proposal on its merits through plan submission.  Like other fire safety requirements, this review will be informed by the UL9540a test results.

 

Alternatively, a manufacturer seeking to market a structure to facilitate stacking of stationary storage enclosures could apply for a certificate of approval for such a product.

 

Similarly, separation distances will need to be determined based on enclosure design, battery system test results and firefighter access requirements.

 

·        Comment: What type of noncombustible roof surface would be acceptable for a rooftop stationary storage battery system installation?  Would a noncombustible mat be acceptable?  Consider inclusion of a reference to Class A rating.

 

Response: Section 608-01(g)(1)(D)(1) of the rule is intended to ensure that the roof is resistant, for a distance of five feet from the installation, to the heat released by the battery system both during normal operation and in the event of a fire.  The rule refers to the “building roof covering or roofing system,” but the placement of a heat resistant material underneath the installation, such as suitable pavers, would be an acceptable alternative, assuming the roof can support the additional weight.  The adequacy of a noncombustible mat would depend on its heat resistance properties and the anticipated heat release from the battery.

 

Accordingly, the rule has been revised to allow “other approved material” to be placed underneath the rooftop battery system installation, provided that it is noncombustible.  Reference to a Class A rating has not been included as a Class A rating is not necessarily fully noncombustible.

 

·        Comment: Is vehicle impact protection (such as bollards) required if the battery system cabinet or battery system enclosure is sufficiently strong to withstand a vehicle impact?

 

Response: This feature of a battery system cabinet would be considered in connection with the application for a certificate of approval and addressed in the terms and conditions of approval.  For battery system enclosures, this feature would be considered in connection with a plan review or upon written request of the enclosure designer.

 

·        Comment: How are permits obtained?  Do they overlap with DOB permits?

 

Response: The permits issued by the Department of Buildings (DOB) are issued to authorize construction work.  Fire Code permits are not issued to authorize construction work.  In the present context, they would be issued to authorize the operation of a stationary storage battery system after the system has been designed, installed and, if applicable, passed an acceptance inspection.  Fire Department permits are designed to inform the Fire Department’s firefighting force of the presence of a hazard at a premises, and are typically associated with a periodic inspection by the Fire Department of the permitted installation.

 

·        Comment: What is general supervision and what does general supervision entail?

 

Response:  “General supervision” is a defined term in the Fire Code (see FC202).  In the present context, it refers to the person holding a Fire Department Certificate of Fitness who is responsible for the battery system installation.  A person providing general supervision does not have to be present on the premises when the installation is in operation, but is responsible for ensuring that it is designed, installed, operated and maintained in accordance with the Fire Code and other applicable laws, rules and regulations.

 

As the responsible party, the Certificate of Fitness holder should inspect a battery system as often as necessary to ensure that it is continuing to operate in a safe and lawful manner.  Minimum inspection frequencies are typically set forth in the Fire Code, Fire Department rules, industry standards and/or manufacturer’s instructions.

 

·        Comment: A Certificate of Fitness holder selected by the owner should be the one person responsible for battery system operation, monitoring and emergency response.  Owners and manufacturers should not have ongoing responsibility for battery systems.

 

Response: In New York City, property owners are legally responsible for the maintaining their property in a safe condition.  As discussed above, however, the battery system installer is likely the party that will obtain a Certificate of Fitness and assume day-to-day responsibility for the proper installation, operation and maintenance of a stationary storage battery system.

 

If the installer is capable of serving as a subject matter expert, manufacturer involvement will not be required.  However, it is anticipated that with these new technologies, limited manufacturer involvement in the form of an making a subject matter expert available will be necessary, and will need to be addressed as part of the ongoing business relationships among the various parties.

 

·        Comment: Public utilities should be exempted from regulation, as they are in the forthcoming 2021 International Fire Code and NFPA Standard 855.

 

Response: The stationary storage battery systems to be used by public utilities present the same fire safety concerns as those at used by any other business.  They will be installed or (in the case of mobile systems) placed in locations throughout the City, like any other battery system.

 

Accordingly, the same concerns warrant regulation of stationary storage systems designed, installed, operated and maintained by public utilities.  The Fire Department will work with public utilities to address any issues unique to public utilities.

 

Effective Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2019

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:1)

Agency:
Comment By: 
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Proposed Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

 

The Fire Department proposes this rule to implement the provisions of Local Law Nos. 114 and 115 of 2018.

 

Local Law 114 directed the Fire Department to develop, in consultation with the Department of Emergency Management (NYCEM) and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), an emergency planning checklist.  This checklist is to be provided to apartment building residents, including individuals with limited mobility or other disabilities or special needs, to assist in the development of individualized emergency evacuation plans.  It will inform residents about the availability of evacuation assistance devices and other means of evacuation.  It will also outline recommended measures that individuals with disabilities or limited mobility can proactively take to prepare to safely evacuate a building in case of emergency, such as identifying neighbors who can provide assistance in an emergency.

 

The Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Planning Checklist (“Checklist”) developed by the Fire Department, in consultation with NYCEM and MOPD, is designed to complement the New York City Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide (“Guide”) adopted effective October 1, 2018, and required to be distributed by apartment building owners to apartment building residents and staff by April 30, 2019.  The form and content of the Guide and the requirements for its distribution are set forth in Fire Department rule 3 RCNY §401-06.

 

The proposed rule would amend Section 401-06 to set forth the form and content of the Checklist and, in accordance with Local Law 114, require its distribution in the same manner as the Guide.  Following the initial distribution of the Checklist, it would be distributed with each subsequent Guide distribution.  The Checklist would also be posted on the Fire Department’s website, with the Guide and other emergency preparedness forms and notices.

 

Local Law 115 directed the Fire Department to require owners of multiple dwellings to post a notice in conspicuous locations indicating that those escaping a fire should close all doors behind them.

 

When escaping a fire, an apartment resident and the members of their household should close all doors behind themselves, including all doors within the apartment through which they exit.  At all other times, public hallway corridor doors and all stairwell doors should be kept closed (except, of course, when using it to enter or exit the apartment or floor).

 

Some stairwell doors, and some public hallway corridor doors serving as fire and smoke barriers, are held open by a magnetic device that releases when a smoke detector on the floor activates.  Such doors will close automatically, provided that there is nothing blocking them.  Such doors do not have to be kept closed, but once they are released by the fire alarm system they should be allowed to close.

 

The proposed rule would establish the design and content of a “Close the Door” notice and require its posting in building lobbies and on the public hallway side of stairwell doors.  The proposed notice would read:

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 visually reinforced by an image of a door ajar, with flames behind it.

 

New text is underlined.  Text proposed to be deleted is [bracketed].

 

“Shall” and “must” denote mandatory requirements and may be used interchangeably in the rules of this department, unless otherwise specified or unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

 

Subject: 

.

Location: 
FDNY Auditorium
9 Metrotech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Contact: 

No contact

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Rule

 

Fire Department rule 3 RCNY §4601-01 sets forth amendments to the fee provisions of the Fire Code, and reflects these new fees by bracketing and underlining, as applicable, the existing text of Sections A03 and A04 of Appendix A to the Fire Code.

 

The Fire Department is amending the provisions relating to fees for plan examinations set forth in FC A03(51) and amending FC A04 to include a document management fee for certain plan examination filings.  These changes are being made at this time to implement Local Law No. 195 of 2018 (Local Law 195), which eliminated New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) review of plans and other design and installation documents for fire alarm, emergency alarm, auxiliary radio communication, and fire extinguishing systems, and fire protection plans.  The Fire Department is also amending FC A03 to include fees for late plan filings and for supplemental reviews of new technology applications and other applications requiring complex technical analyses.

 

Fire Alarm, Emergency Alarm, Auxiliary Radio Communication and Fire Extinguishing System/ Fire Protection Plan Fees

 

DOB currently reviews fire alarm, emergency alarm, auxiliary radio communication and fire extinguishing system plans for compliance with zoning, licensing and asbestos inspection requirements; issues work permits authorizing installation of these systems; and posts information about the applications, approvals and permits on its website.  Fire protection plans – narrative statements describing buildings’ fire protection systems –  are also filed with DOB.

 

To consolidate and streamline the plan review and approval process, Local Law 195 transferred these tasks to the Fire Department, effective on or about May 30, 2019. Local Law 195 eliminated the requirements for DOB filings and work permits, thereby eliminating the applicable DOB application and permit fees.

 

The Fire Department is adopting fees that will enable the agency to hire staff to perform the administrative tasks previously performed by DOB. Specifically, the Fire Department is adopting a document management fee of $165 per application (the same fee previously charged by DOB) to support the cost of processing applications, establishing a public portal on the Fire Department’s website and maintaining electronic records of all applications.  This fee would be added to the list of fees for administrative services set forth in FC A04.

 

The document management fee would apply to any application for a fire alarm system, emergency alarm system, auxiliary radio communication system, or fire extinguishing system, and to any other application not requiring a work permit from DOB (and thus requiring Fire Department administrative review of the application for items normally reviewed by DOB).

 

The Fire Department has determined that the costs involved in these administrative tasks exceed the $165 that the Fire Department will charge.

 

Additionally, the Fire Department will charge a fee of $420 for reviews of fire protection plans, which are reviewed by the Emergency Planning and Preparedness Unit of the Bureau of Fire Prevention to confirm that they are in compliance with applicable code requirements.  .  This is the same amount the agency currently charges for review of fire protection plans, and reflects an average of two hours of review time.

 

Article 109 of Chapter 1 of the New York City Construction Code requires that fire protection plans be filed for covered buildings (including all new high-rise buildings, most hotel and institutional buildings, buildings with assembly spaces of 300 or more persons, and various other occupancies), as well as when the building undergoes a substantial alteration or change in use and occupancy.

 

Late Plan Filings

 

Local Law 195 amended the New York City Fire Code to clarify that when Fire Department approval of plans is required, such approval must be obtained prior to commencing work on the installation.  FC105.4.3 was amended to read as follows:

 

Approved documents required.  When department review of design and installation documents is required by this code or other laws, rules or regulations, it shall be unlawful to construct or alter any facility, or install, alter or remove any device, equipment or system, without first having obtained department approval of the design and installation documents.

 

In order to promote compliance with this provision, the Fire Department is adopting late plan filing fees similar to the late fees for renewals of Fire Department certificates and permits authorized in FC 117.

 

The purpose of these late plan filing fees would be to discourage applicants from performing work without approved plans.  (Such unauthorized work would also be subject to issuance of violations and other enforcement action.)

 

The Fire Department will impose a fifty percent (50%) surcharge for plans filed after the date of commencement of work without approved plans, up to one year from such date, and a one hundred percent (100%) surcharge for plans field more than one year after such date.

 

New Technology Applications and Other Applications Requiring Complex Technical Analyses

 

The Fire Department regularly receives applications for approval of new technologies.  More resources in time and labor are required for review of these applications in order to understand and evaluate the fire safety of the technology and the particular application or installation.

 

For example, the Fire Department regularly reviews applications for outdoor stationary storage battery systems that utilize lithium-ion and other new battery technologies.  A plan review associated with such an applications, which is conducted by the engineering staff of the Bureau of Fire Prevention’s Technology Management Unit, is highly complex.  In addition to reviewing the design of standard fire protection systems and other fire safety features and components, the plan review requires an analysis of the technology and system design.

 

The Fire Department currently charges a fee of $420 for review of plans, specifications and other design and installation documents.  The fee is set forth in FC A03(51) and represents an average of two hours’ review of each application.  Rather than increase the base fee for design and installation document review (which applies to many other types of applications), the Fire Department is adopting a supplemental fee to reflect the additional time required to review new technology applications and applications requiring complex technical analyses.

 

Battery storage systems and other new technology applications – including but not limited to fluid fire dynamic simulation studies and fire test results by nationally recognized testing laboratories – require detailed technical analysis beyond the average of two hours reflected in the standard plan review fee.  Such submissions require comprehensive and highly complex technical analyses by Fire Department engineers in order to determine the merits of the application.

 

The Fire Department is adopting a supplemental fee of $525 for review of new technology applications and other applications involving complex technical analyses.  This includes all applications filed pursuant to Fire Code Section FC102.8, which authorizes the Fire Department to establish fire safety requirements for any material operation or facility not addressed by the Fire Code, and FC104.9, which authorizes the Fire Department to approve alternative devices, equipment and systems not specifically prescribed or prohibited by the Fire Code.  This supplemental fee reflects an average of 2.5 additional hours spent reviewing such applications.

Effective Date: 
Sat, 06/01/2019

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