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No Longer Welcome

Welcome mats may not be welcome in New York City buildings anymore. The New York City Fire Code currently prohibits storage of “combustible materials” in “corridors.” Does that mean that the draperies, tables, benches, framed prints, coat racks, and welcome mats in apartment building hallways should be removed?

According to David Goodman, a management executive at Tudor Realty, the issue was first addressed in the 2008 fire code. It has since been incorporated, with certain changes, into the 2014 fire code, which discourages the use of doormats in hallways (but not in lobbies), and encourages their placement inside dwelling units. The 2014 code states: “Doormats are commonly manufactured of combustible or highly combustible material and typically are not flame-proofed. Doormats also present potential tripping hazards in a location meant to serve as a means of egress.”

The good news, however, is that the fire department will issue violations and order removal of doormats only when their size, material, or location present an undue fire safety or tripping hazard. Oversize doormats can be considered to be area rugs, which the fire department says “must be non-combustible, or flame-proofed by an approved method.” The department encourages residents to place the mats inside apartments. The bottom line, says Goodman, is that doormats “are prohibited but enforcement is discretionary.”

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