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For Immediate Release
January 2, 2009

BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER ROBERT LIMANDRI ANNOUNCES NEW SAFETY PROTOCOLS FOR STANDPIPE INSPECTIONS

New Rule Requires More Inspections to Ensure Standpipes Are Operational at All Times; Fulfills One of the Recommendations by Mayor's Working Group on
Construction, Demolition and Abatement

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced new safety requirements for standpipe inspections on high-rise construction and demolition sites across the City. Under the City's Building Code, a standpipe system is required when a building is being constructed or demolished at a height greater than 75 feet. Effective today, site safety professionals are now required to conduct a weekly "tracing" examination of the standpipe on every floor to verify that no breach exists throughout the building. The new requirements also increase the frequency of standpipe inspections, including daily inspections of the water and Siamese connections and the valves at each story below the construction floor. Prior to this, these inspections were conducted on a periodic basis or as appropriate.

The new protocols fulfill one of the 33 recommendations announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in July 2008 to strengthen inspection practices, increase inter-agency communication and improve the safety of construction, demolition and abatement operations.

"Working standpipe systems are critical to fighting fires, and an increase in the number of standpipe inspections will lead to an increase in construction safety," said Commissioner LiMandri. "Construction and demolition work has inherent risks, but these risks can be mitigated by safety measures designed to protect construction workers, first responders and New Yorkers."

"Working standpipe systems are vital in any high-rise firefighting operation, and this new regulation will provide our firefighters with an additional measure of confidence that water will be there if and when they need it,"  said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

Under Section 3310-01 of Title 1 of the Rules of the City of New York, these new inspection protocols are part of a consolidation of existing site safety rules in effect for the past two decades. The new daily and weekly inspections will be performed by a Site Safety Manager and/or a Site Safety Coordinator, both of whom are hired by a private contractor and must be certified by the Buildings Department. The Building Code requires site safety professionals to inspect a building's standpipe to verify that the system is maintained at all times and ready for use by firefighters when needed.

The dates and results of these inspections must be recorded in a site safety log that must be kept on the job site at all times. If site safety logs are found not to be in compliance during the inspection of construction sites, the Buildings Department will issue violations and Stop Work Orders if necessary.

Following the August 2007 fire at the former Deutsche Bank building that took the lives of two New York City firefighters, a Working Group of City agencies, led by Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, developed 33 recommendations after a comprehensive review of the regulation of construction, demolition and abatement operations, agency practices regarding enforcement and the way these operations are carried out in the field. The working group's full report is available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/pr277-08_safety_report.pdf.

The Buildings Department has also updated its Web site (www.nyc.gov/buildings) with comprehensive information regarding the regulation of construction, demolition and abatement operations, fulfilling another recommendation from the Working Group.

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Kate Lindquist (212) 566-3473

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