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FDNY's Code Enforcement Authority at Construction Sites

 

The full text of the New York City Fire Code can be accessed by clicking on this link:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/firecode/index.shtml

The Fire Code and FDNY Rules do not regulate the design and construction of buildings generally, and the FDNY is not involved in the review or approval of construction work.  The Fire Code and FDNY Rules do regulate the storage, handling and use of hazardous and combustible materials (e.g., motor fuel and other flammable and combustible liquids, and compressed gases), and operations affecting fire safety on construction sites (e.g., torch operations and portable fuel-fired heaters).

FDNY is also authorized to enforce certain provisions of the Building Code pursuant to cross-enforcement provisions of that code.

Pursuant to City Charter, FDNY is authorized to enforce the rules of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).  Historically, BSA rules governed construction work, but these rules were effectively superseded by the enactment of equivalent provisions as part of the 1968 Building Code.  Nonetheless, the BSA rules continue to exist and may be enforced by the FDNY.

Requirements of the New Fire Code

Chapter 14 of the new Fire Code, entitled "Fire Safety During Construction, Alteration and Demolition," sets forth new fire safety requirements for construction, alteration and demolition work that were not contained in the prior Fire Prevention Code.  The Fire Code was enacted in Spring 2008, with an effective date of July 1, 2008.

Section 1401.2 provides that buildings, structures, premises and facilities undergoing construction, alteration or demolition shall "additionally comply with the requirements of NFPA 241 as to measures not specifically addressed herein."  Chapter 10 of NFPA 241
addresses safeguarding demolition operations. Chapter 7 of NFPA 241 requires the development of a fire safety program, including a pre-fire plan and organization and training of a fire brigade. 

Section 1408.1 requires the designation of a "fire safety manager" for construction sites where a site safety manager or site safety coordinator is required by the Building Code. The fire safety manager shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Fire Code and FDNY Rules.

Section 1408.2 requires the fire safety manager to develop and maintain at the construction site an approved pre-fire plan, and requires that it be made available for examination by any FDNY representative. 

Section 1410 requires that approved vehicle access for fire apparatus be provided to all construction sites either by temporary or permanent roads.  

Section 1404.1 and 1404.3 prohibit open fires and smoking in buildings under construction or demolition, and require "NO SMOKING" signs to be prominently posted throughout all floors of such buildings.

The following FDNY rule has been proposed to address fire safety at construction sites:

 

§1401-01   Enforcement of Fire Safety at Construction Sites

(a)        Scope.  This section sets forth requirements relating to the operation of construction sites.

(b)        Cooperation with Department Inspections

  1. Construction sites are subject to regular inspection by the Department.  Such inspections may include enforcement of Construction Code requirements pursuant to the authority granted to the Department by Administrative Code §28-103.1.  Inspection frequency will be determined by the Department based on an assessment of the risks associated with the construction, alteration and/or demolition work being conducted.  Construction sites at which a building more than 35 feet in height or with a footprint of more than 7,500 square feet is being constructed or demolished will be inspected by the Department at least once every 30 days when construction or demolition operations are in progress, unless the Department’s risk assessment of the specific construction site indicates a heightened or diminished risk warranting a different inspection frequency.

  2. The owner of every premises upon which construction, alteration or demolition operations are being conducted, the construction manager, project manager, general contractor and any other person in charge of such construction site, shall cooperate with the Department in its inspections of the construction site, including providing or arranging for access to and around the construction site, inspection of records, and communication with the owner or his or her design professionals, managers or contractors, as necessary or appropriate.  The fire safety manager, where required pursuant to FC1408, shall provide such assistance; or, where no fire safety manager is required, such assistance shall be provided by the liaison required by FC2703.9.1.1 in connection with the storage, handling or use of hazardous materials or other appropriate representative of the owner, construction manager, project manager or general contractor.

(c)        General Requirements.  The owner shall ensure fire safety on the construction site by monitoring and enforcing compliance with all applicable code and rule provisions, including but not limited to the following requirements:

  1. obtaining and maintaining on the site all required permits, certificates and recordkeeping, including the Building Code work permit and Fire Department permits, in accordance with Administrative Code §§ 28-105.1 and 28‑105.11, FC Chapter 1 and other applicable provisions of the code and rules;
  2. provision and maintenance of elevators in readiness, in accordance with FC1411.3 and BC3303.12;

  3. provision and maintenance of standpipe systems, in accordance with FC1413 and BC3303.8;
  4. provision and maintenance of sprinkler systems, in accordance with FC1414 and BC3306.9.6;

  5. provision and maintenance of stairways and other required means of egress, in accordance with FC1027 and BC3303.11;

  6. provision and maintenance of an approved water supply for fire protection purposes prior to delivery of hazardous materials or combustible materials at the construction site, in accordance with FC1412;

  7. storage, handling and use of compressed gases, including LPG and CNG, in accordance with FC 1406, 3504.2, 3804.10 and 3809.12;

  8. storage, handling and use of flammable liquids and combustible liquids, including gasoline, diesel fuel, paint, varnishes and lacquers, and cargo tank vehicle fueling, in accordance with FC 1405 and 3406.2;

  9. storage, handling and use of small arms ammunition for powder-actuated tools, including nail and rivet guns, in accordance with FC1418;

  10. storage, handling and use of heating, drying and curing devices, including portable fueled space heaters, in accordance with FC1403, and the enforcement of the prohibition against open fires, in accordance with FC1404;

  11. conduct of hot work operations, including the provision of a fire watch, in accordance with FC 1404 and 2604;

  12. provision, maintenance and ready availability of portable fire extinguishers, in accordance with FC906;

  13. provision and maintenance of fire apparatus access, in accordance with FC1410;

  14. provision and maintenance of an emergency telephone, in accordance with FC1409;

  15. storage and removal of combustible waste from the construction site, in accordance with FC1404.2;

  16. enforcement of the prohibition against smoking on the construction site, in accordance with FC1404; and

  17. provision of a watchperson familiar with the location and use of firefighting equipment and location of emergency telephone and fire alarm boxes, when construction or demolition operations are not in progress, in accordance with BC3307.5.1 and FC1409.

 

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