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PR- 160-04
June 24, 2004


Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Law

"The first bill before me today is Introductory Number 126-A, sponsored at the request of the Administration by Council Members Provenzano, Avella, Comrie, Fidler, Koppell, Gennaro and Oddo. This bill implements certain recommendations published by the World Trade Center Building Code Task Force in an effort to improve and enhance safety during emergency events in high-rise office buildings.

"The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent World Trade Center collapse changed our world irrevocably.  In an attempt to learn from these tragic events and improve safety for occupants of high-rise office buildings, the Department of Buildings convened the World Trade Center Building Code Task Force in March of 2002. This Task Force brought together experts from government, the real estate community, and the design and construction professions in an effort to review high-rise building design, construction and operating requirements and identify practical ways to improve the current levels of safety provided by the City's Building Code.  In cooperation with academics, special needs communities and 9/11 families and survivors, the Task Force spent nearly a year reviewing the available data and research before publishing a series of 21 recommendations in February of 2003.  In September of last year, 13 of these recommendations were incorporated into the bill before me today; the remaining eight are being implemented by rule change or are still under technical review.

"The recommendations included in this bill fall into three categories:  retroactive requirements applying to both new and existing high rise office buildings, prohibitions on the use of certain material and designs for these buildings, and new requirements applicable to the construction of new high rise buildings.

"The bill's retroactive requirements include:

  • Full sprinkler protection for office buildings 100 feet or greater in height.
  • Improved markings, exit signs and mandatory back-up power for these signs.
  • Mandatory evacuation plans for non-fire related emergencies.

"Provisions in the bill prohibiting the use of certain materials and/or designs in the construction of new buildings include:

  • Restricting the use of 'scissor stairs'.
  • Temporarily prohibiting the use of open-web steel joists.
  • Restricting the use of oversized fuel oil transfer piping.

Finally, Intro 126A includes several provisions establishing new requirements, including:

  • Controlled inspections of sprayed-on fireproofing and fire dampers used to prevent the spread of fire through mechanical ductwork;
  • Using impact resistant stair and elevator enclosures in high rise office buildings to provide occupants greater protection and more time to evacuate the building;
  • Installing smoke stop elevator vestibules in high rise office buildings to prevent the spread of smoke throughout a building during a fire;
  • Raising air intake locations to prevent unwanted pollutants from entering a building's ventilation system;
  • Excluding certain floor drains from normal fixture counts as a way to encourage their use and prevent the water used for fighting fires from draining into elevator shafts.

"While the Task Force conducted a thorough and thoughtful review of all the data currently available, it is important to mention that this is not the end of the process-as more studies are conducted and new information becomes available, additional modifications may be necessary.  Regardless, I am confident the changes included in Intro 126A will have a significant impact upon the safety of high-rise office buildings, their occupants, and emergency responders. 

"I would first like to thank all the members of the World Trade Center Building Code Task Force for their commitment to a safer New York City. I would also like to thank Councilmember Provenzano, her staff, and the entire City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings for supporting this legislation. Finally, I want to thank Commissioner Patricia Lancaster of the Department of Buildings, Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta of the Fire Department and all the agency staff for their hard work on this legislation."


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958

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