How to Comply with FDNY Rules for Fire Safety Plans, Notices
In November 2019, the latest FDNY rules implementing Local Laws 114 and 115 of 2018 went into effect. These particular rules pertain to providing an emergency planning checklist to apartment residents and posting “Close the Door” signs in conspicuous locations. And in recent years, new Fire Department rules changing the content and delivery of the annual residential fire safety guides went into effect.
The following is a list of FDNY-related documents affecting owners of residential buildings with three or more apartments.
NYC Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide
The fire and emergency preparedness (FEP) guide required to be distributed to apartment building residents and staff has been revised to include the NYC Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide. This document was developed by the FDNY to inform apartment building residents and staff about apartment building safety and what each resident can do to prepare for emergencies, prevent fires, and protect themselves and their families during a fire or non-fire emergency.
This change occurred because 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. Like its predecessor, the new 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 form can be filled out online at www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/codes/building-information-form.pdf and, once completed, you can print the document.
- Part II of the FEP guide is the NYC Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide, which can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/codes/nyc-apartment-building-emergency-guide.pdf.
The FEP guide must be provided to new occupants. This includes subtenants and roommates who move into the apartment. The rules require distribution of the new FEP guide again as part of a building-wide distribution at least once every three calendar years during October’s Fire Prevention week or between Jan. 1 and Jan. 16 if owners will be distributing it with the annual DOHMH-required lead poisoning and window falls notice.
Each time an owner gives someone a copy of the FEP guide, the owner must get proof that he or she did so. All of these distribution records must be kept for five years and made available to the FDNY, upon request. If delivered by regular mail, owners must get a certificate of mailing or some other official proof of mailing from the post office. If hand-delivered, owners must get either a signed acknowledgment of receipt from the occupant or building employee, or a statement containing the notarized signature of the employee who delivered the FEP guide. The statement must give the date the FEP guide was delivered, the way it was delivered, and the apartment number to which the employee delivered it or the name of the occupant to whom the employee gave it.
If the owner sent the FEP guide by email, the owner must maintain a printed record of the distribution of the FEP guide unless the owner’s electronic communications system can reliably maintain this information and readily generate an approved record to the Fire Department, on request.
In addition to distributing the FEP guide to residents and staff, regulations require owners to post Part I of the FEP in a common area of the building, next to the fire safety notice. And if Part I of the FEP changes significantly (not including temporary repairs or maintenance work), owners must give current occupants and building staff a copy of the FEP guide and post the changed FEP Part I in the common area within 60 days of that change.
2019–2020 Fire and Emergency Preparedness Annual Bulletin
This document is a supplement to the information provided in the FEP guide. Where the rules require owners to distribute the new FEP guide as part of a building-wide distribution at least once every three calendar years, this document is intended for annual distribution during the off-years. It’s a short informational bulletin that highlights and reinforces an important, timely fire safety or other emergency preparedness message. According to the FDNY, this bulletin would take advantage of an opportunity to communicate lessons learned or other messages 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 haven’t received one.
The current annual bulletin can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/codes/2019-FEP-Bulletin-11-19-2019-final.pdf. The deadline for distribution is April 30, 2020.
Fire Safety and FEP Notices
Unlike the FEP guide and bulletin, which require distribution on a regular basis, the FDNY has developed fire safety notices. These notices inform people of the procedures to follow if there’s a fire. Owners must post a fire safety notice on the inside of the entrance door of every apartment in the building, as well as in the building’s common area. As mentioned above, owners must also separately post the FEP Part I in the same manner as they post the fire safety notice.
There are two basic types of notices: one for combustible construction and the other for noncombustible construction. Each type has different instructions in the case of an emergency. The fire safety notice for noncombustible construction can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/codes/non-combustible-fireproof-building.pdf. And the notice for combustible construction can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/codes/combustible-non-fireproof-building.pdf.
Owners are responsible for maintaining the fire safety notices posted on the inside of apartment doors and the notices and fire safety plans posted in the building’s common areas. Owners are required to replace any missing or damaged fire safety notices posted on the inside of apartment doors before a new occupant moves in or on a tenant’s written request.
Individual Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Planning Checklist
This checklist is a new requirement that must be delivered to residents starting in 2020. The deadline for the initial distribution of the Individual Emergency Preparedness/Evacuation Planning checklist is April 30, 2020. For subsequent distributions (after 2020), the checklist is to be delivered with the FEP guide.
The purpose of the checklist is to assist residents in planning a more personalized evacuation plan. This is especially important for those with “limited mobility or other disabilities or special needs, key issues relative to their ability to evacuate the building.”
The checklist is available in a fillable PDF format that can be completed online and printed. It can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/codes/individual-emergency-checklist.pdf.
‘Close the Door’ Notices
Local Law 115 requires owners of multiple dwellings to post a notice in conspicuous locations indicating that those escaping a fire should close all doors behind them. This rule went into effect on Nov. 15, 2019. When escaping a fire, apartment residents should close all doors behind them, 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 a door 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’s nothing blocking them. Such doors don’t have to be kept closed, but once they’re released by the fire alarm system they should be allowed to close.
The posting of the “Close the Door” notices is separate from the FEP notice. Notices must be posted and maintained on the public hallway corridor side of each stairwell door in the building. Postings of this notice aren’t required in the lobby. And postings also aren’t required for an open stair. The “Close the Door” notices can be found at www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/codes/close-the-door-notice.pdf.
High-Rise Residential (Non-Sequential Floor Numbering) Building ID Card
The FDNY has issued rules establishing standards, procedures, and requirements for the electronic filing of a building information card that identifies non-sequential or other non-standard floor numbering in buildings that are at least 150 feet high. This requirement applies to buildings with vanity floor numbering as well as those that skip a floor (such as no 13th floor). At this time, no fee is required for this filing and all filings must be completed online. Owners may electronically file at www1.nyc.gov/nycbusiness/description/high-rise-residential-building-non-sequential-floor-numbering-bic.