3 RCNY 104-04 Certification of Corrected Defects in Fire Alarm System Installations

Proposed Rules: Open to Comments (View Public Comments Received:3)

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020
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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.

Public Hearing
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Public Hearing Date: 
Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 11:00am
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