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Fire Department
Codified Title: 
Title 3: Fire Department

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

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:25)

Agency:
Comment By: 
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Proposed Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

 

The Fire Department proposes 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 proposed rule would 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 proposed rule would implement the working group’s guidelines through fully-developed design and installation requirements and emergency management procedures for outdoor stationary storage battery systems.

 

This proposed 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 would apply 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 proposed 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 proposed 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 proposed 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.

 

The Fire Department specifically invites public comment, including technical comment, about the full-scale testing standard and other standards adopted in this proposed rule.

 

Proposed Regulatory Requirements

 

The proposed rule would regulate outdoor stationary storage battery systems based on their technology and size.  Table 1 establishes proposed 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 proposed 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 proposed rule include the following requirements:

 

·        Permits.  The proposed rule would require 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 proposed rule would require 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 would help 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 proposed rule would require 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 proposed 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.

 

The Fire Department specifically invites public comment as to how outdoor stationary storage battery systems are likely to be managed, maintained and monitored once installed, and the category of persons who would be best qualified and available to provide the assistance that the Fire Department may require in the event a seriously malfunctioning stationary storage battery system necessitates a Fire Department response.

 

·        Multiple battery systems.  The proposed rule would require 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 proposed rule would allow 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 proposed 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 proposed rule would require that outdoor stationary storage battery systems be installed (commissioned) or removed (decommissioned) only by trained and knowledgeable persons holding a Fire Department Certificate of Fitness.  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 proposed rule would require notification to the Fire Department in connection with the commissioning and decommissioning of these outdoor stationary storage battery systems, so Fire Department firefighters or other representatives can, if they wish, 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, would have to be coordinated with the Hazardous Materials Unit of the Fire Department’s Bureau of Operations.

 

·        Design and installation requirements.  The proposed 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 proposed rule would authorize 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 proposed rule would require 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.

 

The Fire Department specifically invites public comment on the design and installation requirements for enclosures, and whether the rule needs to address the design and installation of other products developed for outdoor stationary storage battery systems.

 

·        Rooftop installations.  The proposed 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 proposed rule would require 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.

 

The Fire Department specifically invites public comment on the business arrangements among the manufacturer, installer and property owner with respect to the monitoring of battery management systems and management of emergencies affecting outdoor stationary storage battery systems.

 

·        Emergency management plan and technical assistance.  The proposed rule would require 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 proposed rule would require 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 proposed rule would require an annual inspection of the outdoor stationary storage battery system by the Certificate of Fitness holder.  The proposed rule also clarifies that the replacement of battery components with different battery technologies or chemistries would constitute an alteration of the system that must be submitted for Fire Department review and approval in accordance with the requirements of the proposed rule.

 

·        Recordkeeping.  The proposed rule would require 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.

Subject: 

.

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

No contact

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

STATEMENT OF BASIS AND PURPOSE OF FINAL RULE

 

Repeal of Outdated BSA Rules and Reorganization of Building Design Rules

 

Prior to 1968, BSA was responsible for adopting standards regulating fire safety in buildings and construction sites.  Among other things, BSA adopted rules relating to fire alarm systems and other fire protection systems, and construction site requirements.

 

With the enactment of the 1968 Building Code, and later, the 2008 Building Code and 2008 Fire Code, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) and FDNY took over this role.  The new codes and rules promulgated thereunder by DOB and FDNY superseded the provisions of the BSA rules with respect to the design and construction of new buildings and the operation and maintenance of existing buildings.  However, sometimes building owners and developers are confused as to whether the BSA requirements, which were never repealed or amended, remain in effect or are applicable to particular projects or installations.

 

The purpose of this rulemaking is to eliminate outdated BSA rules that have been superseded by the New York City Fire Code and to transfer to FDNY rules any remaining provisions of BSA rules relating to matters now regulated by the Fire Code that need to be retained.

 

The BSA rules that relate to the design of buildings and building systems (which are now regulated by the Building Code or other Construction Codes) are not being repealed but, like old building codes, will be kept in place for purposes of preserving pre‑existing design requirements.  The only exception are the BSA rules relating to construction site requirements, which are being repealed as they have no continuing applicability and have been wholly superseded by Building Code and Fire Code requirements.

 

The BSA rules being retained have been reorganized into two chapters in a manner designed to clarify their applicability.  New introductory sections have been included that set forth the scope of each chapter, place the BSA rules in the proper context, and alert the reader to the requirements of the New York City Construction Codes.  A cross-reference table indicating the disposition of each BSA rule provision and any new BSA or Fire Department section number is included as Chapter 5 of the BSA rules.

Effective Date: 
Sun, 05/05/2019

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments

Agency:
Comment By: 
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Proposed Rules Content: 

 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed 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 proposes to amend the provisions relating to fees for plan examinations set forth in FC A03(51) and to amend FC A04 to include a document management fee for certain plan examination filings.  These changes are being proposed 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 also proposes to amend 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 proposes to adopt fees that will enable the agency to hire staff to perform the administrative tasks previously performed by DOB. Specifically, the Fire Department proposes to adopt 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 proposes to charge.

 

Additionally, the Fire Department proposes to 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 proposes to adopt 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 proposes to 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 filed 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 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 proposes to adopt 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.

 

Material newly added to 3 RCNY §4601-01 is underlined.  Material to be deleted is in [brackets].

 

Certain text has been highlighted as a note to the publisher.  Blue highlighting of text indicates that the underlining should be retained in the publication of the final rule, to reflect the changes to the Fire Code fee schedule.

the base fee for design and installation document review (which applies to many other types of applications), the Fire Department proposes to adopt 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

 

“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: 

.

Contact: 

No contact

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments

Agency:
Comment By: 
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Proposed Rules Content: 

STATEMENT OF BASIS AND PURPOSE OF PROPOSED RULE

 

Repeal of Outdated BSA Rules and Reorganization of Building Design Rules

 

Prior to 1968, BSA was responsible for adopting standards regulating fire safety in buildings and construction sites.  Among other things, BSA adopted rules relating to fire alarm systems and other fire protection systems, and construction site requirements.

 

With the enactment of the 1968 Building Code, and later, the 2008 Building Code and 2008 Fire Code, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) and FDNY took over this role.  The new codes and rules promulgated thereunder by DOB and FDNY superseded the provisions of the BSA rules with respect to the design and construction of new buildings and the operation and maintenance of existing buildings.  However, sometimes building owners and developers are confused as to whether the BSA requirements, which were never repealed or amended, remain in effect or are applicable to particular projects or installations.

 

The purpose of this proposed rulemaking is to eliminate outdated BSA rules that have been superseded by the New York City Fire Code and to transfer to FDNY rules any remaining provisions of BSA rules relating to matters now regulated by the Fire Code that need to be retained.

 

The BSA rules that relate to the design of buildings and building systems (which are now regulated by the Building Code or other Construction Codes) are not proposed to be repealed but, like old building codes, will be kept in place for purposes of preserving pre‑existing design requirements.  The only exception are the BSA rules relating to construction site requirements, which are proposed to be repealed as they have no continuing applicability and have been wholly superseded by Building Code and Fire Code requirements.

 

The BSA rules proposed to be retained have been reorganized into two chapters in a manner designed to clarify their applicability.  New introductory sections have been included that set forth the scope of each chapter, place the BSA rules in the proper context, and alert the reader to the requirements of the New York City Construction Codes.  A cross-reference table indicating the disposition of each BSA rule provision and any new BSA or Fire Department section number would be included as Chapter 5 of the BSA rules.

 

Specifically, BSA proposes the repeal of the following BSA rule provisions, which are addressed by existing Building Code, Fire Code and/or FDNY rule provisions:

 

Section of

BSA Rules

Type of Requirement

BC/FC Section

Proposed Disposition/ Comments

§3-02 Alteration, Repair, Excavation for and Demolition of Building.

(except sections indicated below)

Design/Construction

BC Chapter 33

Repeal.

Superseded by Building Code construction requirements

§3-02 (e) General requirements

(7) Salamanders and other heating devices

Operation

FC 307.6;

313.6;

1403.1.6;

3 RCNY

307-01;

1403-01;

3809-01(j)(2)

Repeal.

Superseded by Fire Code and FDNY rule requirements

§3-02 (e) General requirements

(17) Storage of material and equipment

(18) Storage and disposal of debris

(19) Corrosive substances

Operation/Maintenance

BC3303.4.7

BC3303.5

FC 304;

1405;

FC Chapter 31

Repeal.

Superseded by Building Code and Fire Code requirements

§3-02 (i) Demolition operations

(18) Storage of material

(19) Burning at site

Operation

BC3306.9.11

FC 307.1;

1404.3

Repeal.

Superseded by Building Code and Fire Code requirements

§3-02 (i) Demolition operations

(20) Fire Protection and Fire Extinguishers

Operation/Maintenance

BC 3303.7

BC3303.8;

FC 906;

912.3;

1413.2

1414.1

Repeal.

Superseded by Building Code and Fire Code requirements

§3-02 (j) Equipment

(25) Explosives

(i) Storage, Sales, Transportation, Use or Possession of Explosives, Generally

(A) Permit

(B) Guncotton and Soluble Cotton

(C) Nitro-glycerine

(D) Transportation or Delivery

(E) Supervision

(F) Unapproved Kinds, Types or Brands

(j) Equipment

(25) Explosives

(ii) Blasting Operations

Operation/Maintenance

FC 105.6;

1407.1;

2707.6;

3301.5;

3307.

3 RCNY

2707-02

Repeal.

Superseded by Fire Code and FDNY rule requirements

 

§5-01 Coin-Operated Dry Cleaning Establishments.

Design/Construction/

Operation/Maintenance

FC 105.6;

FC Chapter 12

Repeal.

NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rule 15 RCNY 12‑04 prohibits use of self-service dry cleaning machines using perchlorethylene after May 15, 1997

 

§6-01 Elevator Readiness and Operator Availability to Assist in Fire Department Access During Hours When the Building is Normally Closed.

Operation

FC 506.2;

506.3;

607

Repeal.

Superseded by Fire Code

requirements

 

§8-01 Installation of Interior Fire Alarm Signal Systems.

(n) Acceptance test.

(p) Maintenance.

Operation/Maintenance

BC901.5.

FC 105.1;

105.2.2;

901.1.1;

901.6;

901.7;

907.3.3;

907.17;

907.18;

NFPA 72-2010

(as modified by FC Appendix B).

Repeal.

Superseded by

Building Code

and Fire Code

requirements

 

§ 10-02 Fire Extinguishing Appliances – Sprinkler Systems.

(uu) Maintenance inspection.

Maintenance

FC 901.5;

901.6.1

903.5;

903.6;

1414;

3 RCNY §901-02; 903‑01;

912-01;

NFPA 25-2011

Repeal.

Superseded by Fire Code and FDNY rule requirements

 

§ 10-03 Fire Extinguishing Appliances – Standpipe and Fireline.

(c) Monthly inspections.

(e) Elevator in readiness.

Operation/Maintenance

FC 607;

901.6;

3 RCNY §912-01;

NFPA 25-2011

Repeal.

Superseded by Fire Code and Fire Department rule

requirements

 

§ 12-02 Tests of Fire-Resistive, Flameproofed Materials Used in Places of Public Assembly and Special Occupancy Structures.

Operation/Maintenance

FC 805;

3 RCNY §805-01; NFPA 701-2010.

 

Repeal.

Superseded by Fire Code and Fire Department rule requirements

 

§16-01 Installation and Use of Oil Burning Equipment and the Storage of Oils Used in Connection Therewith.

(j)(4) Fee for permit and test of storage tanks

(o)(2) Instruction cards and certificates of fitness

Operation/

Maintenance

FC113

FC603.1.8

FC Appendix A

3 RCNY §113­01

Repeal.

Superseded by Fire Code and Fire Department rule requirements

 

§25-01 Arc and Gas Welding and Oxygen Cutting of Steel.

Design/Construction

NYC Admin Code 28-407;

BC1704;

2201;

2205-2207;

2209-2210

Repeal.

Superseded by

Building Code requirements and Construction Code General Administrative Provisions

 

§25-02 Electroslag Welding.

Design/Construction

NYC Admin Code 28-407;

BC1704;

2201;

2205-2207;

2209-2210

Repeal.

Superseded by

Building Code requirements and Construction Code General Administrative Provisions

 

§26-01 Liquefiers Used to Convert Solid Carbon Dioxide to a Liquid and/or a Gas.

Design/Construction/

Operation/Maintenance

N/A

Repeal.

No longer in use.

         

 

BSA additionally proposes the repeal of the following BSA rule provisions, which FDNY proposes to incorporate in whole or in part into FDNY rules:

 

Section of

BSA Rules

Type of Requirement

BC/FC Section

Proposed Disposition/

Comment

§3-02 (e) General requirements.

(4)(i) Fire extinguishers and fire protection.

Operation

FC 304.3;

508.5;

906;

912.2;

1404.2;

1412-1415.

3 RCNY §1401-01 

Repeal.

Transfer to FDNY rule 3 RCNY 1401‑01 as new subdivision (c)(18) requirement of 5‑foot clearance from hydrants at construction sites

 

Section of

BSA Rules

Type of Requirement

BC/FC Section

Proposed Disposition/ Comments

§5-02 Non-Coin-Operated Dry Cleaning Establishments.

(a) through (h)

Design/Construction/

Operation/Maintenance

FC 105.6;

FC Chapter 12;

FC 2703.1;

FC Chapter 34;

NFPA 32 (2007); NFPA 101 (2006)

Repeal.

Transfer to new FDNY rule 3 RCNY 4801-01 provisions applicable to pre-existing facilities.

Pursuant NYC Department of Environmental Protection rule

15 RCNY §12-04, all dry cleaning facilities installed in residential buildings before December 21, 2005 must eliminate perchlorethylene use by December 21, 2020.

§8-01 Installation of Interior Fire Alarm Signal Systems.

(o) Daily and monthly test.

Operation/Maintenance

907.20.2;

NFPA 72-2010

(as modified by FC Appendix B).

Repeal.

Transfer to new FDNY rule 3 RCNY 4801-01 provisions applicable to pre-existing facilities and clarify that, consistent with current Fire Code procedures, daily testing is only required for systems without a control panel capable of receiving and displaying supervisory or trouble signals.

§ 15-01 Clearance Between Storage Vessels and Adjacent Structures.

Design/Construction/

Operation/Maintenance

 

Repeal.

Transfer to new FDNY rule3 RCNY 4801‑01 provisions applicable to pre-existing facilities.

§18-01 Use of Equipment for Spraying and Drying of Paints, Varnishes, Lacquers and Other Flammable Surface Coatings and Storage of Such Materials.

Design/Construction/

Operation/Maintenance

FC1503

Repeal.

Transfer to new FDNY rule 3 RCNY 4801-01 provisions applicable to pre-existing facilities.

 

These BSA rule provisions are proposed to be incorporated into Fire Department rules unchanged, with two exceptions.  The fire alarm system testing provisions of §8‑01(o) have been revised in new Fire Department rule §4801-01(e) to apply current Fire Code inspection and testing procedures to such fire alarm systems if they are equipped with a control panel capable of receiving and displaying supervisory or trouble signals indicating that particular components of the fire alarm system are not functioning, require servicing or are otherwise not in good working order.  The spray paint booth regulations of §18-01(d) have been revised in new Fire Department rule §4801-01(g) to omit reference to asbestos as a fireproofing material.

 

FDNY Enforcement of BSA Resolutions

 

BSA also proposes to adopt a new rule, 2 RCNY §1-15, that specifically authorizes FDNY to enforce BSA resolutions within the scope of FDNY’s enforcement authority.

 

In accordance with BSA rule 2 RCNY §1-12.1, final determinations of the BSA are in the form of a written resolution.  Resolutions recite the rule, regulation, order, requirement, decision or determination upon which an application has been made; proceedings before the Board, including plans and other submissions; findings and conclusions of the Board; the decision on an application; and, if an application is approved, the terms and conditions for approval.  The resolutions are published by the agency in bulletins of its proceedings, posted on BSA’s website, and subject to judicial review pursuant to §25-207 of the New York City Administrative Code and Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.

 

Most BSA resolutions are sought by building owners and developers and are self‑enforcing in the sense that, once BSA approval is obtained, it is in the interest of the owners and developers to reference and incorporate the approval into the plans they file with DOB.

 

However, from time to time, FDNY will apply to BSA to amend a Certificate of Occupancy to require installation of fire protection systems based on a change in use and occupancy of a premises.  BSA may also condition the granting of an approval to a private party upon compliance with certain fire safety measures.  These BSA approvals are not self-enforcing.  FDNY is generally the agency inspecting and enforcing such fire-safety-related requirements arising from BSA approvals.

 

BSA has no mechanism in place to issue violations for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of its approvals, as set forth in its resolutions.  BSA can enforce such terms and conditions by rescinding the approval, but generally this would have the effect of rendering an existing building or use illegal.  Such a remedy is not always the most appropriate or expeditious enforcement method for obtaining compliance with the terms and conditions of a BSA approval.

 

FDNY has broad enforcement authority and comprehensive inspection programs.  It is authorized by the New York City Charter to enforce BSA rules and by the NYC Administrative Code to enforce fire-safety-related requirements of the Construction Codes.

 

BSA and FDNY have concluded that it would be in both agencies’ interest – and in the interest of public safety – to adopt a rule that specifically authorizes FDNY to enforce BSA resolutions within the scope of FDNY’s enforcement jurisdiction.

Subject: 

.

Location: 
Fire Department Headquarters
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 new rule, 3 RCNY §401-07, to establish standards, requirements and procedures for the conduct of fire drills and non-fire emergency drills.

 

This rule applies to office buildings, hotels and all other Group B and Group R-1 occupancies required by the 2014 Fire Code to have an emergency preparedness plan and a Fire and Life Safety (FLS) director (or a Fire Safety Director transitioning to an FLS director), and in all homeless shelters similarly required to have an FLS director or a Fire and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.  The Fire Department encourages voluntary compliance with this rule in other occupancies conducting fire and/or other emergency preparedness drills.

 

The rule outlines the critical information that needs to be communicated during these drills. The Department’s goal is to ensure that these drills effectively communicate important public safety information about fire and non-fire emergencies in a manner meaningful to building occupants.

 

The rule also requires that persons conducting fire drills or non-fire emergency drills possess a Fire Department Certificate of Fitness.

 

The rule details the location of the presentation and effective presentation techniques, including use of visual enhancements, and lessons learned from actual emergency incidents.  The rule also provides drill presentation requirements including:

 

·       

the importance of calling 911 and notifying building emergency preparedness staff;

·       

a description of the building and building systems;

·       

a description of the fire alarm system, methods of notification and announcements, operation of manual pull stations, and use of warden phones;

·       

the location and use of means of egress;

·       

fire emergency procedures in buildings of combustible construction and noncombustible construction; and

·       

non-fire emergency procedures.

 

The rule is intended to promote the participation in drills of persons with disabilities or other functional needs, who will need assistance in evacuation or in-building relocation, and to require that the information be communicated to them in some other manner if they cannot participate.  It requires that the drills address issues relating to people who will need assistance, including encouraging such persons to establish a network of supports, by identifying themselves in accordance with building emergency preparedness procedures to make building emergency preparedness staff aware of their needs, and by introducing themselves to co‑workers willing and able to provide assistance in a fire or non-fire emergency.

 

Appendix A to the rule provides medical emergency procedures designed to help expedite the aid provided by emergency responders on scene.  An owner must implement the medical emergency procedures set forth in this rule.  Appendix B to the rule provides active shooter emergency procedures recommended by the Fire Department, which it developed with the New York City Police Department. While an owner may develop and implement its own active shooter procedures to reflect the specific conditions in its building or occupancy, the Fire Department recommends the procedures set forth in Appendix B as the appropriate training to provide building occupants in the typical building or occupancy.

 

Public Comment

 

Public comment was received requesting clarification of the reference in 401-07(b)(2) to “all types of non-fire emergencies.”  The provision has been revised to reference the non-fire emergencies identified in 401-07(a).

 

Public comment was received requesting that 401-07(d)(3) be revised to make clear that drill participants are being instructed to activate manual pull stations during an actual fire or smoke condition, not during the drill.  The provision has been revised accordingly.  The fire alarm system is commonly activated from the fire command center to announce the drill and to educate building occupants as to the meaning of the different alarm tones.

 

A similar comment was received with respect to use of warden phones during a drill.  Drill instructors may instruct floor wardens or other emergency preparedness staff during the drill to use the warden phones to familiarize them with the phones’ operation, but are not required to do so.

 

The entire rule is underlined, indicating 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.

Effective Date: 
Tue, 01/01/2019

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Final Rule

 

Background

 

Since 2000, New York City has required apartment building owners to print and distribute residential fire safety guides to apartment building residents and building staff, and to post fire safety notices on the inside of dwelling unit entrance doors and in building lobbies.  The purpose of these fire safety guides and notices is to:

 

·      promote fire safety and fire prevention in apartment buildings;

·      educate residents and building staff about the design and construction of their building, including construction type, fire protection systems and means of egress; and

·      outline emergency procedures to assist them in the event that they are confronted by a fire and need to determine what action to take to protect themselves and their families.

 

The format, content, distribution and posting requirements for the fire safety guide and notices were incorporated into the 2008 Fire Code (in FC408.9) and in Fire Department rule 3 RCNY §408‑02, which the rule now amends.

 

New Fire and Emergency Preparedness Guide

 

The 2014 Fire Code comprehensively revised Chapter 4, which governs emergency planning and preparedness, and moved the fire safety guide and notice requirements to FC401.6.  The 2014 Fire Code expanded the scope of the guide to encompass non-fire emergencies, such as medical emergencies, severe weather emergencies, power outages, hazardous materials releases, and terrorism-related incidents.

 

This rule would implement the 2014 Fire Code by replacing the existing Fire Safety Guide with a new Fire and Emergency Preparedness Guide (“FEP Guide”) entitled “New York City Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide” (Appendix 1 to the renumbered §401‑06). Like its predecessor, the FEP Guide consists of two parts. Part I is the Building Information Section, a form completed by the owner for each building indicating the building’s construction, fire protection systems, means of egress and other information specific to the building for which it is prepared.  The rule would not substantially change the existing content requirements for this obligation, except to require the owner to indicate whether there is an emergency voice communication system in the building.

 

Part II of the FEP Guide is designed to educate all building occupants about ways to prepare for emergencies, prevent fires, and protect themselves from various fire and non-fire emergencies.  In addition, the FEP Guide emphasizes emergency preparedness planning for persons with functional or access needs who will need assistance if they must evacuate the building in an emergency.  During most non-fire emergencies, the elevator is available to evacuate persons unable to walk down stairs without assistance, and in modern buildings of non‑combustible construction, all residents are generally advised to shelter in place during the fire.  The Guide explains the importance of developing an individualized evacuation plan and a network of supports who can assist persons with functional or access needs in the event of an emergency in which they need to evacuate and they cannot use the elevator, such as in the case of a fire in their apartment.

 

Revised FEP Guide Distribution Requirements

 

Currently, the Fire Safety Guide must be provided to apartment building residents at time of occupancy (when they first move into the building) and must be distributed again every year.  The Fire Department proposes to require distribution of the new FEP Guide at time of occupancy and again as part of a building-wide distribution every three years.  During the off-years, the rule would require building owners to distribute a short informational bulletin (4 pages or less), which would be used to highlight and reinforce an important, timely fire safety or other emergency preparedness message.  This would take advantage of an opportunity to communicate lessons learned or other message when the issue is fresh in the public’s mind because of a recent fire or other incident. The informational bulletin will remind apartment building residents to familiarize themselves with the contents of the FEP Guide and advise them on how to obtain a copy if they have not received one.

 

Additionally, the Fire Department proposes to authorize electronic distribution of the FEP Guide (by email or other form of electronic transmission) to apartment residents and building staff.  This would encourage development of electronic communications between owners and residents that can be used for other emergency preparedness communications and in actual emergencies.

 

 

Other Considerations

 

The rule would not change the fire safety notices (Appendix 2 to the renumbered §401‑06) that building owners are required to post.

 

Response to Public Comments

 

Public comment was received suggesting that the public will not read a lengthy booklet and the Fire Department should only require that it be made available upon request.  The Fire Department declines to adopt this suggestion.  The information presented in the Guide directly relates to individual safety and is something every New Yorker should know.  The Fire Department has endeavored to make the Guide more reader-friendly and, using modern electronic communications, more accessible and easier to distribute.  Placing the Guide in the hands of the millions of New Yorkers who live in apartment buildings ensures the widest access to this information and the greatest likelihood that that the information will be disseminated.  The fact that not every person will read it does not argue for limiting its distribution.

 

Public comment was received inquiring as to the timeframe for compliance with the rule, given that the rule requires distribution of the Fire and Emergency Preparedness Guide in October or January.  The Fire Department has adopted this rule effective October 1, 2018, but in response to this concern, states in the Notice of Adoption that the time for compliance with the distribution requirement for the 2018-2019 cycle (only) is extended to April 30, 2019.

Public comment was received indicating that owners should be able to distribute the guide to building residents with whom they have email communications, without having to formally elect to receive the guide in that manner.  The rule has been revised to allow email transmission to any building resident who has provided an email address for the purpose of receiving building-related email communications.

 

In response to a request to specify a date by which the Fire Department will post the annual fire safety bulletins, the rule has been revised to specify August 15th of every year.

 

With respect to retention and recordkeeping, the Fire Department notes that it is only requiring retention of recordkeeping for the Guide to two distribution cycles, not three, as previously, although the retention period is longer.  The term “approved” enables the Department to enforce clear and reliable recordkeeping and typically does not require any formal submission to the Department.

 

Various comments were received from an organization that advocates for the disabled.  These include the following assertions:

 

  • The Guide and fire safety notices are not available in large print.

 

A large print Guide will be posted on the Fire Department’s website, and reference to posting a large print notice has been included in the rule. The Fire Department will also post an accessible PDF version of the Guide.

 

The rule does not limit the size of fire safety notices.  The owner can prepare a large-type fire safety notice to accommodate the needs of a person with limited vision.  In addition, by allowing the Guide to be emailed to apartment residents, the Guide can be read using screen viewer technology by persons who are blind or have low vision.

 

  • The Guide relies on the kindness of neighbors and family members.

 

Response: The Guide relies on establishing a network of supports to facilitate timely evacuation by building residents.  The comment fails to recognize that in apartment buildings other resources frequently are not available.  Many apartment buildings do not have staff or have a limited staff presence.

 

In a fire (the most likely circumstance in which immediate evacuation may be required), building staff may not be in close proximity or able to provide assistance to all building residents and/or may themselves need to evacuate.  Promoting false reliance is the least desirable course of action.  Even in office buildings, reliance is generally placed primarily on work colleagues to assist persons with limited mobility or other physical limitations.  As this Guide encourages residents to communicate their needs to building management, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will be amending its ABCs of Housing Guide to encourage owners and building residents to discuss emergency preparedness and building evacuation issues, as outlined in the Guide.

 

  • The Guide fails to address provision of evacuation devices or training individuals to use them.

 

Response:  The Guide makes mention of the availability of evacuation devices and notes that one may wish to consider keeping a lightweight travel wheelchair or evacuation chair in one’s apartment as part of an individual’s emergency preparedness plan.  The Emergency Preparedness Resources Section of the Guide references informational materials regarding the use of such devices.

 

  • The Guide fails to mandate certain design requirements for building egress, fire alarm and communication systems.

 

Response: The Guide addresses building construction, means of egress and fire protection systems in order to inform apartment residents’ response to emergencies.  The Building Code governs building design and systems and its accessibility provisions are generally beyond the scope of the Guide.

 

  • The Guide does not address use of elevators or notice to building residents of elevator shutdowns.

 

Response: The Guide does address the use (and non-use) of elevators.  In most emergencies, building residents are advised to remain in the building, and in most non‑fire emergencies, elevators are available for use.

 

Notice requirements relating to elevator shutdowns are established by HPD.  The Guide references the fact that owners are required to post notices, but more importantly encourages building residents to establish communications with the owner to ensure that they are made aware whenever elevators may be taken out of service.

 

  • The active shooter advice is inapplicable to persons in wheelchairs.  Building owners should develop other procedures to address such scenarios.

 

Response:  The comment is incorrect.  The actions recommended by the Guide with respect to active shooter emergencies (“Avoid, Barricade, Confront”) is applicable to all persons, including persons in wheelchairs.  The guidance addresses situations that both able-bodied and persons with disabilities may encounter, including the inability to safely leave an area.

 

  • City shelters should be open in any emergency, not just coastal storms.

 

Response: The City’s provision of shelters is generally too incident-specific to include in the Guide.  The Guide references the availability of City shelters during a coastal storm because such shelters are operated whenever area evacuations are ordered.  Public announcements and/or individual notification will be made when shelter is available during other emergencies.  The Guide has been revised to make reference to such announcements and notifications.

 

  • Persons may not have the financial resources to maintain readiness supplies. 

                             

Response: The Guide is an informational document designed to inform individual emergency preparedness planning and responses.  Individual financial resources or other means to obtain these items is beyond the scope of the Guide.

 

  • Persons should not be separated from their service animals and it is “unrealistic” to expect people to carry photos of their service animals in case of separation.

 

Response: The Guide references both pets and service animals.  Whether persons would be separated from service animals is beyond the scope of the Guide, but it is a reasonable precaution to keep a photograph of a service animal in a phone or wallet (as pet owners commonly do with their pets) if that circumstance arises.  The Fire Department disagrees with the comment that this is an unrealistic requirement.

 

  • The Guide should clarify that registering with a utility company as a person on life-sustaining equipment is for notification purposes only and does not mean they will receive assistance with building evacuation.

 

Response: The Guide states that a person listed as a life-sustainingequipment (LSE) customer will be contacted in the event of a power emergency.  This is the wording from a utility website and does not imply any further assistance.

 

 

Effective Date: 
Mon, 10/01/2018

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

Agency:
Comment By: 
Monday, September 17, 2018
Proposed Rules Content: 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

 

The Fire Department proposes to adopt a new rule, 3 RCNY §401-07, to establish standards, requirements and procedures for the conduct of fire drills and non-fire emergency drills.

 

The proposed rule applies to office buildings, hotels and all other Group B and Group R-1 occupancies required by the 2014 Fire Code to have an emergency preparedness plan and a Fire and Life Safety (FLS) director (or a Fire Safety Director transitioning to an FLS director), and in all homeless shelters similarly required to have an FLS director or a Fire and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.  The Fire Department encourages voluntary compliance with this rule in other occupancies conducting fire and/or other emergency preparedness drills.

 

The proposed rule outlines the critical information that needs to be communicated during these drills. The Department’s goal is to ensure that these drills effectively communicate important public safety information about fire and non-fire emergencies in a manner meaningful to building occupants.

 

The proposed rule also requires that persons conducting fire drills or non-fire emergency drills possess a Fire Department Certificate of Fitness.

 

The proposed rule details the location of the presentation and effective presentation techniques, including use of visual enhancements, and lessons learned from actual emergency incidents.  The proposed rule also provides drill presentation requirements including:

 

·        the importance of calling 911 and notifying building emergency preparedness staff;

·        a description of the building and building systems;

·        a description of the fire alarm system, methods of notification and announcements, operation of manual pull stations, and use of warden phones;

·        the location and use of means of egress;

·        fire emergency procedures in buildings of combustible construction and noncombustible construction; and

·        non-fire emergency procedures.

 

The proposed rule is intended to promote the participation in drills of persons with disabilities or other functional needs, who will need assistance in evacuation or in-building relocation, and to require that the information be communicated to them in some other manner if they cannot participate.  It requires that the drills address issues relating to people who will need assistance, including encouraging such persons to establish a network of supports, by identifying themselves in accordance with building emergency preparedness procedures to make building emergency preparedness staff aware of their needs, and by introducing themselves to co‑workers willing and able to provide assistance in a fire or non-fire emergency.

 

Appendix A to the proposed rule provides medical emergency procedures designed to help expedite the aid provided by emergency responders on scene.  An owner must implement the medical emergency procedures set forth in this proposed rule.  Appendix B to the proposed rule provides active shooter emergency procedures recommended by the Fire Department, which it developed with the New York City Police Department. While an owner may develop and implement its own active shooter procedures to reflect the specific conditions in its building or occupancy, the Fire Department recommends the procedures set forth in Appendix B as the appropriate training to provide building occupants in the typical building or occupancy.

 

The entire proposed rule is underlined, indicating 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: 

.

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

No contact

Pages