New York City Fire Codes and Local Law 26: What You Need to Know
If you own or plan to own an office building in New York City that is 100 feet or higher, this year you’re probably going to hear a lot of talk about Local Law 26 of 2004 (LL26, for short). This law, strengthens fire safety requirements for existing office structures throughout NYC—most notably the requirement to install a sprinkler system within 15 years of the law’s enactment (specifically, by July 1, 2019). Here’s what you need to know to make sure your building is in compliance as this deadline approaches.
What Is LL26 and What Does It Cover?
Between its dense population and multitude of high-rise structures old and new, it comes as no surprise that New York City fire codes are among the strictest in the country. While most new structures comply with these codes as they are built, many older buildings do not. LL26 was enacted in response to lessons learned after the 9/11 attacks, when the NYC government determined that current fire codes didn’t provide enough protection for business occupants in existing structures.
The new law stipulated a laundry list of retroactive changes and requirements for these buildings, ranging from exit signage and egress to stipulations for scissor stairs, elevator vestibules and so on. (You can see a summary of the provisions here.) Most of these requirements have already been met per early deadlines set in 2006-2007. The one requirement still outstanding—and the one causing possibly the most expense—is the installation of sprinkler systems in these buildings. We are coming up on this final deadline next year.
Why Am I Hearing About It Now?
Although the deadline for LL26 sprinkler installations isn’t until mid-2019, buildings that haven’t already made these upgrades are required to file an interim report by July 1 of this year indicating progress on the sprinkler upgrades and a plan of action. Thus, property owners whose buildings are not yet in compliance with the law must start formulating a plan and file a report with the city within a few months.
How Do I Know if My Building Is Affected?
You need to prepare for LL26 compliance if:
· Your building is at least 100 feet tall
· Your building is classified by the city for business occupancy; and
· A compliant sprinkler system is not already installed.
If your building does have a sprinkler system, you should also have it inspected to be sure it meets the specific requirements of LL26.
Are there Exceptions?
Yes. If your office building is designated as a historic landmark and installation of a sprinkler system would alter the building drastically, you may be able to obtain a waiver exempting the building from LL26 requirements. The same holds true if your building is not a landmark but installation of a sprinkler system would be impractical due to structural limitations.
If you have questions about whether your new or existing building needs work to comply with New York City fire codes, we’re here to help! Call Wellbuilt today at 1.917.475.1207.