Memorandum of Opposition: A Local Law to amend the New York City building code, in relation to requiring carbon monoxide detectors in commercial spaces

INTRO NUMBER: 644-A

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the New York City building code, in relation to requiring carbon monoxide detectors in commercial spaces

SPONSORS: Eugene

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the City’s leading real estate trade association, representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers and brokers, is supportive of the intent of the bill to make buildings safer, however, we ask the Council to consider the following practical considerations before proceeding with this bill as currently written.

The bill applies to all existing commercial and residential buildings by expanding the applicability of Building Code’s carbon monoxide (CO) detector requirements for assembly spaces to all business and mercantile spaces in the City.

Requiring these devices to be tied into existing fire alarm systems may present a significant challenge for owners as these devices would have to be configured to signal for emergencies. To comply with this provision, owners may have to completely upgrade existing systems, adding significant costs for what should be a relatively simple upgrade. The Council should consider allowing owners to utilize detectors that can operate singularly. Allowing battery-operated or other plug-in devices would also include buildings without fire alarm systems, which are currently exempted from installing these safety devices in this bill.

As currently drafted, it is unclear whether devices would need to be installed near the CO producing equipment or throughout the entire building where sources of CO producing equipment are not located directly within mercantile or business spaces. Remote installation of such a device reduces the safety benefits of this legislation. Given the broad scope of the bill, REBNY urges the Council to provide greater clarity prior to rulemaking to ensure building owners can comply with the bill’s requirements. The Council should confer with the NYC Department of Building’s Fire Protection Code Revision Committee, which considers matters like this, and should defer to their recommendations. Additionally, the bill should provide greater clarity in identifying potential sources of carbon monoxide outside the most common sources to clarify the applicability of this bill and to assure the objectives of this bill are fully met.

With greater clarity and with these suggested changes incorporated, REBNY could be supportive of this bill.

For the abovementioned reasons, REBNY OPPOSES INTRO No. 644-A.