FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SIGNS LEGISLATION IMPROVING SAFETY, COORDINATION AND OVERSIGHT AT CONSTRUCTION, DEMOLITION AND ASBESTOS ABATEMENT SITES
Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws
“The first four of six bills before me today – Introductory Numbers 993-A, 994-A, 999-A, and 1000-A – are part of a comprehensive legislative package to improve safety, enhance coordination, and increase oversight at construction, demolition, and asbestos abatement sites in New York City.
“Following the tragic fire at the former Deutsche Bank building located at 130 Liberty Street that took the lives of firefighters Joseph Graffagnino Jr. and Robert Beddia, I ordered a comprehensive review of oversight and operations at construction, demolition, and abatement sites. The Construction, Demolition & Abatement Working Group, led by Deputy Mayor for Operations Ed Skyler, and comprised of representatives from the Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Fire Department, and the Office of Operations, developed thirty-three recommendations that focused on four areas: inspection processes, general oversight, field operations, and data sharing. In conjunction with the City Council, twelve pieces of legislation were drafted that collectively address many of the recommendations from the Working Group. Five bills were signed in to law in June and four will be signed in to law today.
“The bills before me today relate to two specific areas: enhancing safety at construction and demolition sites and strengthening standpipe and sprinkler safety. Construction work has inherent risks but these bills will mitigate those risks and better protect emergency responders, workers, and the public.
“Introductory Number 993-A, sponsored in conjunction with the Administration by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Dilan, Fidler, Gonzalez, James, Liu, Nelson, Seabrook, Stewart, Weprin, Baez, White, Recchia, Gentile, Vann, Garodnick, Katz, Lappin, Vallone and Mitchell, requires registered design professionals to submit plans and details to the Buildings Department regarding the building or section of a building to be demolished using handheld mechanical devices such as chainsaws and jackhammers. It also enhances Construction Code requirements for mechanical demolitions using non-handheld devices such as bobcats or backhoes. All demolition projects are complicated and involve sophisticated equipment. The requirements of Introductory Number 993-A significantly increase the safety of that work by having DOB review plans before issuing a permit for demolition work.
“Introductory Number 994-A, sponsored in conjunction with the Administration by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Garodnick, Fidler, Gentile, Gonzalez, James, Koppell, Liu, Nelson, Recchia, Sanders, Seabrook, Weprin, Baez, White, Gerson, Dilan, Katz, Lappin, Vallone and Mitchell, requires the uniform color-coding of standpipe and sprinkler systems and professional certification that these systems have been properly color-coded. Color-coding requirements will facilitate identification of sprinkler and standpipe systems by Fire Department personnel during an emergency.
“Introductory Number 999-A, sponsored in conjunction with the Administration by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Gerson, Fidler, Gentile, Gonzalez, James, Koppell, Liu, Nelson, Seabrook, Stewart, Weprin, Baez, White, Dilan, Garodnick, Katz, Lappin, Vallone and Mitchell, requires site safety managers to check standpipe systems to ensure that they’re in a state of readiness and to document these inspections. Checking that a standpipe system is ready at all times during construction will ensure that Fire Department personnel will have access to water when they are called to an emergency at a construction site.
“Introductory Number 1000-A, sponsored in conjunction with the Administration by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Ignizio, Fidler, Gentile, Gonzalez, James, Koppell, Liu, Nelson, Sanders, Weprin, Baez, White, Gerson, Oddo, Recchia, Dilan, Garodnick, Katz, Lappin, Vallone and Mitchell, relates to the cutting and capping of standpipe and sprinkler systems.
“The Building Code currently allows contractors to cut and cap standpipes or sprinklers during construction or demolition without requiring a permit. However, people performing the cutting and capping may lack the knowledge or expertise to perform this work safely, increasing the risk that a standpipe or sprinkler system could be damaged and not perform properly when needed. Introductory Number 1000-A allows only a licensed master plumber or licensed master fire suppression piping contractor who has obtained a permit to cut and cap standpipes or sprinklers. Working standpipe and sprinkler systems are critical to firefighter operations and the process of cutting and capping them should not go unreviewed. This bill ensures that only licensed individuals with the necessary expertise will perform this work.
“I would like to thank Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler, Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, and their staff for working tirelessly over the past year to identify the problems, recommend solutions, and develop legislation that will overhaul the City’s construction and demolition procedures. I would also like to thank Speaker Quinn, the Council, as well as our partners in the construction industry, including Gary La Barbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council, Lou Coletti, President of the Building Trades Employers Association, and Stephen Spinola, President of the Real Estate Board of New York for their partnership during this process. Through the measures enacted today and the other CDA bills we have enacted in to law, we are making construction, demolition, and abatement sites as safe as possible for workers, first responders, and the public.”
Stu Loeser/Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958