Amendments to 3 RCNY 401-06 "Fire and Emergency Preparedness Guide, Checklist and Notices"

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Agency:
Effective Date: 
Friday, November 15, 2019
Download Copy of Adopted Rule (.pdf): 

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.