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Habitat Magazine June 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Stay Safe

Compliance in Plain English

Below is an edited version of Chapter 15 (Fire & Emergency Safety Plans & Notices) of The 2020 Apartment Management Checklist, published by The Habitat Group.

Stay Safe: What You Need to Know About Fire & Emergency Safety Plans & Notices

Every year your building must take stock of its fire and emergency plans. The deadline for distributing your plans and filing/posting the appropriate notices is April 30, 2020. Below is an excerpt from the 2020 Apartment Management Checklist detailing what has to be done.

Background

Owners (including co-ops and condos) of buildings with three or more apartments must comply with NYC Fire Code and Fire Department (FDNY) rules that require preparation, posting, and/or distributing to residential occupants and building employees various fire and emergency safety forms and notices, many of which have been created or revised in the past two years.

What You Need to Do by April 30, 2020

By April 30, 2020 you will need to distribute and post several notices. They include:

  • The 2019–2020 Fire and Emergency Preparedness Annual Bulletin (FEP Bulletin). This is a new publication which is a brief supplement to the NYC Emergency Preparedness Guide (FEP Guide).
  • The Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Planning Checklist (FEP Checklist). This is designed to assist building residents in the development of individualized emergency evacuation plans. The FEP Checklist informs residents about the availability of evacuation assistance devices and other means of evacuation, and outlines recommended measures that individuals with disabilities or limited mobility can proactively take to prepare to evacuate a building safely in case of emergency, such as identifying neighbors who can provide assistance in an emergency. Following the initial distribution of the FEP Checklist by April 30, 2020, the FEP Checklist must be distributed with each subsequent FEP Guide distribution.
  • “Close the Door” Notice must be posted on the public hallway side of stairwell doors by April 30, 2020. This notice advises occupants and building staff to close all doors during a fire, as well as at other times. The FDNY has established the design and content of this notice
  • Hurricane Evacuation Notice If your building is located within a hurricane evacuation zone, as designated by the NYC Office of Emergency Management, you must post hurricane evacuation notices advising residents of the building’s current hurricane evacuation zone designation and how to find their closest hurricane evacuation centers.

How to Comply

All of these documents and notices come with very specific guidelines on how to prepare, post and distribute. You’ll want to check AMC 2020, or with the professional who is helping your board, to learn what these guidelines are because variations (or building creativity) are not allowed.

NYC Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide Building Information (FEP Part I)

FEP Part I is an individual building information page that the owner must complete. Here’s the information required:

1.The building address.

2.The name and address of the owner or the owner’s representative.The representative must be someone whom the owner has authorized to get and respond to complaints, violations, or questions regarding building fire safety. (If an owner puts FEP Part I on letterhead that already has this information, it doesn’t need to be repeated.)

3.The number of floors in the building.

4.The year the building was built.

5.Whether the building is of combustible (non-fireproof) or non-combustible (fireproof) construction.To determine which type of construction applies to a building, an owner must first check his or her building’s current Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued by the Dept. of Buildings (DOB). This should say if the building is of noncombustible, or fireproof, construction, or if it is of combustible, or nonfireproof, construction.

If a building has no C of O, an owner must ask the DOB for a “Letter of No Objection” that tells whether the construction is noncombustible or combustible. If an owner cannot get this, he or she should consult a professional engineer or registered architect. The owner should get the engineer or architect to certify a written statement that specifies the type of construction.

If, after taking the above steps, an owner cannot determine the type of construction, the FDNY will consider the building to be of combustible construction.

6.Whether the building has a fire sprinkler system.If so, FEP Part I must specify the areas within the building that the sprinkler system protects (e.g., the compactor chute on each floor).

7.Whether the building has a fire alarm system.If so, FEP Part I must state:

•The general location of the system’s manual pull stations (e.g., by the main entrance of the building and next to the stairwell at each end of the corridor on each floor); and

•Whether the manual pull station, when activated, transmits an alarm to the FDNY or to a private fire alarm company that notifies the FDNY.

8.Whether the building has an emergency voice communication system or public address system (apartment from an intercom system). If so, FEP Part I must give the location of the system’s speakers.

9.All ways to get out of the building.An owner must also give the general location and any identification letter for these ways to get out. The identification letter is the letter an owner has assigned for each stairwell. This is the same letter included on the stair identification sign owners are required to post. AMC 2020 details the ways to get out of a building.

10.The date the owner prepared FEP Part I.

11.Other fire information or requirements.This might include lease provisions or house rules on fire safety (e.g., restrictions on storage or decorations). Owners should make sure that these are clearly identified as such in the plan.

Posting of FEP Part 1. Regulations require owners to post FEP Part I in a common area of the building, next to the Fire Safety Notice that owners also must post. Owners must post FEP Part I in the same manner as they post the Fire Safety Notice. If FEP Part I changes significantly, owners must post the changed FEP Part I within 60 days of that change.

NYC Apartment Building Emergency Preparedness Guide (FEP Guide)

The FEP Guide is the fire and emergency information brochure that accompanies FEP Part I. Owners who prepare their own copies of the FEP Guide must copy the full text from the FEP Guide contained in current Fire Department rules. Details on how the FEP Guide must be formatted and distributed are included in the AMC 2020.

Owners must distribute to current occupants and building employees either during Fire Prevention Week (observed during the month of October) or between Jan. 1 and Jan. 16 (if the owners will be distributing the fire safety plan with the annual DOHMH-required lead poisoning & window falls notice). Owners must keep copies of the FEP Guide they distribute to apartment occupants for five years. They must make these plans available to a representative of the Fire Department, on request.

NYC Fire Safety Notice (for either combustible or noncombustible buildings)

FDNY has developed separate Fire Safety Notices for noncombustible (that is, fireproof) and combustible (that is, nonfireproof) buildings, which instruct occupants on how to respond in the event of fire. Owners must post the applicable 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.

Owners also must post, separately and in the same manner as the Fire Safety Notices, the FEP Part I next to the Fire Safety Notice they post in the building’s common areas. The AMC 2020 includes descriptions of the Fire Safety Notice text, formatting requirements and posting details.

NYC Apartment Building Individual Emergency Preparedness/Evacuation Planning Checklist (FEP Checklist)

The FEP Checklist, also known as the Limited Mobility Planning Checklist, must be distributed initially by April 30, 2020, to all tenants, occupants, and onsite building employees, and again every three years. Owners must distribute the FEP Checklist during the distribution cycle of the first annual FEP Bulletin and must attach the FEP Bulletin to the FEP Checklist.

While the FEP Checklist primarily requires information to be provided by tenants, certain information must be provided on the form by the owner. For example, the Building Notifications section of the FEP Checklist provides information on whether the building has a plan to notify residents if there is an emergency in the building.

Owners also must document compliance with preparation and distribution requirements for the FEP Checklist by maintaining a copy of the last two FEP Checklists and proof of distribution. However, at press time, it was unclear whether owners must retain a single copy of the FEP Checklist distributed for a building with the owner’s portion filled in, or a copy of every FEP Checklist filled out and returned by residents and employees.

Fire Safety Notices

FDNY has developed separate Fire Safety Notices for noncombustible (fireproof) and combustible (nonfireproof) buildings, which instruct occupants on how to respond in the event of fire. Owners must post the applicable 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.

Owners also must post, separately and in the same manner as the Fire Safety Notices, the FEP Part I next to the Fire Safety Notice they post in the building’s common areas. Information on where and how to post Fire Safety Notices also applies to FEP Part I.

FEP Bulletin

Owners must distribute the annual FEP Bulletin to occupants and building staff in order to highlight and reinforce provisions of the FEP Guide. The Fire Department’s 2019–2020 FEP Bulletin, a four-page supplement to the FEP Guide, must be distributed by April 30, 2020, and must be attached to the new FEP Checklist. It is anticipated that the FEP Bulletin will be updated annually based on Fire Department rule requirements.

FEP Checklist

The FEP Checklist, also known as the Limited Mobility Planning Checklist, must be distributed initially by April 30, 2020, to all tenants, occupants, and onsite building employees, and again every three years. Owners must distribute the FEP Checklist during the distribution cycle of the first annual FEP Bulletin and must attach the FEP Bulletin to the FEP Checklist.

While the FEP Checklist primarily requires information to be provided by tenants, certain information must be provided on the form by the owner. For example, the Building Notifications section of the FEP Checklist provides information on whether the building has a plan to notify residents if there is an emergency in the building.

Owners also must document compliance with preparation and distribution requirements for the FEP Checklist by maintaining a copy of the last two FEP Checklists and proof of distribution. However, at press time, it was unclear whether owners must retain a single copy of the FEP Checklist distributed for a building with the owner’s portion filled in, or a copy of every FEP Checklist filled out and returned by residents and employees.

Close the Door Notice

Fire Department rules require owners to post the Close the Door Notice on the public hallway corridor side of each stairwell door in a building, except for open stairs. The Close the Door Notice must be in English and “such other additional languages (including symbols) as the owner concludes would benefit the building occupants.” The Notice also must measure at least 2¾ inches by 12 inches excluding any frame.

The notice includes illustrations and must read, “In a Fire, Close All Doors Behind You! Keep Fire and Smoke Out of Building Hallways and Stairs. Keep Apartment and Stairwell Doors Closed at All Other Times. Protect Your Neighbors and Your Home!”

The deadline for posting the Close the Door Notice is April 30, 2020. It is anticipated that the Fire Department will make this notice available in other languages.

Hurricane Evacuation Zone Notices

Effective Oct. 6, 2019, owners of buildings within designated hurricane evacuation zones must post notices within the buildings to inform occupants of their current hurricane evacuation zone designation and the methodology for determining their closest hurricane evacuation centers, either through calling 311 or the online Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder at https://maps.nyc.gov/hurricane/.

This notice must be posted within a common area of the building and such other locations that may be set forth in city regulations, which, at press time, had not yet been issued.

Floor Numbering List

The Fire Department 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. The building information card must be 11" by 17" in size and must contain a color-coded diagram showing clearly marked floor numbers or letters, as well as other details such as bordering streets, entrances, stairs, elevators, shafts, standpipes, and mechanical equipment room locations.

Penalties for Failure to Comply

Owners who violate the Fire Department rules may be fined up to $5,000 for each violation and may have to pay a civil penalty of up to $5,000. If the owner knows he or she is violating or failing to follow the rules, the owner is guilty of a misdemeanor. The owner may be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for up to six months, or both, for each offense and may have to pay a civil penalty of up to $5,000.

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