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Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Final Rule

 

Existing Regulation of Commercial Cooking Exhaust Systems

 

The New York City Fire Code requires the periodic inspection and cleaning of exhaust systems for restaurant and other commercial cooking equipment that generate grease-laden vapors.  Grease accumulations in exhaust systems are the source of numerous fires, which the exhaust ducts can spread throughout the building. The residue generated by wood-burning cooking equipment compounds the risk of a fire.

Restaurant owners and others have been targeted over the years by unscrupulous businesses that charge for cleaning the commercial cooking exhaust system but fail to perform a proper cleaning.  To help prevent this, companies that clean commercial cooking exhaust systems must be licensed by the Fire Department, which requires businesses performing the cleaning to obtain a company certificate and their cleaning technicians a certificate of fitness.

The cleaning companies are required to attach a decal to the commercial cooking equipment to document that the exhaust system has been cleaned, as well as by what company and technician, and when the cleaning was performed.  Currently, cleaning companies print their own decals as proof of compliance with Fire Code requirements. Recent investigations by the New York City Department of Investigation revealed that unlicensed businesses unlawfully conducting such cleanings fraudulently placed decals identifying other, licensed companies as having done the work.

Existing Regulation of Portable Fire Extinguishers

The New York City Fire Code requires the periodic inspection and servicing of portable fire extinguishers where such extinguishers are required.  An annual inspection must be conducted by a licensed portable fire extinguisher servicing company to ensure that the portable fire extinguishers are functional and to repair or recharge them if necessary.  A tag must be attached to the portable fire extinguisher to document the inspection and/or servicing.

It is difficult for business owners to assess whether the companies they have hired to service portable fire extinguishers are properly servicing them. The Fire Department itself may not be able to evaluate the adequacy of the services provided when it inspects the premises weeks or months later. There is a history of unscrupulous companies charging businesses inflated fees for these services, and then failing to perform necessary servicing. Most recently, the New York City Department of Investigation discovered several such companies attaching an inspection tag bearing the name of another company, jeopardizing the other company’s business reputation.

As a result, companies that sell or service portable fire extinguishers are required to be licensed by the Fire Department. The companies must obtain a company certificate and their technicians must obtain a Fire Department certificate of fitness.

New Regulation of Proof of Compliance

The Fire Department adopts this rule to regulate the decals and tags that serve as proof of compliance with Fire Code requirements.

Section 115-02 requires commercial cooking exhaust system cleaning companies to use Fire Department-issued, numbered decals as proof of compliance with Fire Code inspection and cleaning requirements. It also requires portable fire extinguisher sales and servicing companies to use Fire Department-issued, numbered tags as proof of compliance with Fire Code inspection, testing and servicing requirements. Only licensed companies are eligible to purchase the Fire Department-issued decals and tags, and only the Fire Department-issued decals and tags will be acceptable proof of the inspection, cleaning and/or servicing. The decals and tags will be designed with various security measures to prevent counterfeiting.

This will help ensure that only licensed businesses perform the required fire safety inspections, cleaning and servicing; promote proper performance by preventing misidentification of the company that performed the work; and make it more difficult for unqualified and unlicensed businesses to engage in fraudulent practices.

Unauthorized use of Fire Department-issued proof of compliance by an unlicensed company or individual, or misuse by a licensed company or one of its technicians, constitutes a violation of the applicable Fire Code requirements for commercial cooking exhaust systems or portable fire extinguishers and will subject the violator to a civil or criminal penalty. It can also result in denial, suspension, revocation or non-renewal of a Fire Department certificate.

In accordance with existing Fire Code requirements (as set forth in Section FC107.7), records of all inspections, cleaning and/or servicing of equipment, and the names and Certificate of Fitness numbers of all company personnel who performed the work, must be maintained for a period not less than three (3) years.

Proof of Compliance Issuance Process

The Fire Department will coordinate the purchase of the proof of compliance from an approved City vendor. The Fire Department will retain the services of a vendor and order blank proof of compliance, which will be completed with the name of the company certificate holder at time of purchase.  The price of the proof of compliance for company certificate holders will reflect the cost of its preparation and printing, as well as administrative processing costs. Minimum order sizes may apply. Price, order and payment arrangements will be published on the Fire Department’s website and are subject to change. When possible, the Fire Department will offer company certificate holders the benefit of bulk discounts that are available for large print orders. The Fire Department anticipates publishing a bulk reorder schedule.

Related Amendments

The Fire Department also amends 3 RCNY §115-01, the rule addressing company certificates, to reference company certificates for commercial cooking system cleaning (currently set forth in Fire Code Section FC901.6.3.3), and incorporate the existing qualifications for the certificate (currently set forth on the Fire Department application form), including five years’ experience. Section 115-01(d) also incorporates existing minimum company staffing requirements and indicates the types of tools, materials and equipment required to conduct commercial cooking exhaust system cleaning.

Public Comment and Fire Department Response

Public comment received at the public hearing, including the statement of an industry association, the New York Association of Fire Equipment Distributors, was generally favorable to the proposed rule.  Various speakers acknowledged that there are unlicensed persons or companies that engage in deceptive practices, including use of misleading or stolen decals and tags.

Various speakers expressed concern about the cost of the decals and tags, but also urged that they be able to incorporate company logos, license numbers from other jurisdictions, and other identifying information.  The Fire Department will endeavor to design decals and tags that can accommodate as many of the requested features as possible, consistent with the goal of keeping the cost low.

Public comment urged the use of multi-year decals and tags.  The proof of compliance will address this concern.

Public comment was received expressing skepticism about the ability to prevent counterfeiting.  The Fire Department is incorporating various security measures into the decals and tags.

Several comments were received expressing concern about additional recordkeeping requirements.  Use of Fire Department-issued proof of compliance will require somewhat more careful recordkeeping, but this will be facilitated with the use of bar codes.

One printing company expressed opposition to the rule on the impact it would have on competing printing companies, claiming that it restrains competition.  Requiring government-issued decals or tags as proof of compliance with public safety regulations (like the registration and inspection decals affixed to motor vehicles) is not a restraint of trade.  The City vendor that will be used to print the required decals and tags was retained by the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services in accordance with City procurement processes.

A public comment was received suggesting that the term “precipitator” be clarified to include any pollution control device.  This suggested change has been accepted and incorporated.

 

Effective Date: 
Fri, 06/01/2018

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 



 Click here (.pdf) for the complete text of the adopted rule.



Effective Date: 
Sun, 02/05/2012