The Real Estate Board of New York to The New York City Fire Department

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The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, salespeople, and other organizations and individuals active in New York City real estate. REBNY thanks the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) for the opportunity to comment on the Proposed 2021 New York City Fire Code.

REBNY’s first priority is the health and safety of New Yorkers, and the standards set in the Fire Code are essential to that end. The Fire Department’s continual review and updates to City’s fire safety requirements for businesses and buildings is an effective way to ensure New York’s regulations remain current and account for recently identified fire risks and hazards, such as new technologies.

We thank FDNY for its extensive partnership over the past several years as it developed the proposed revisions and modifications to the Fire Code. We look forward to our continued collaboration when the Proposed 2021 New York City Fire Code is finalized and eventually implemented.

While REBNY broadly supports the current proposal, what follows are comments on a few specific provisions:

FC511.7 would require storage space for pre-positioned department equipment in high-rise megastructures for the sole purpose of storing department equipment subject to certain requirements.

o REBNY appreciates the unique challenges posed by high-rise megastructures and the challenges moving equipment vertically in those buildings. At the same time, it is important that this provision does not change the floor classification should the storage space be placed on a mechanical floor, which by the City Zoning Text is deducted from permitted floor area. If the storage space were to be placed on a mechanical floor, the classification of the entire floor could change, potentially resulting in the loss thousands of square feet of floor area exemption. For this reason, REBNY has already raised concerns about this proposal including in a joint conversation with FDNY, the Department of Buildings (DOB), and City Planning (DCP), and proposed that the effective date of this provision be tied to a Zoning Text change that would grant a floor area exemption, consistent with treatment of other life and safety requirements, for the space required under FC511.7. We ask FDNY to clarify that the storage room requirement will be effective contingent upon the floor area exemption.

• Additionally, we would suggest the following underlined amendment to 511.7.5:

This constitutes an operational requirement of this code; however, in a building constructed on or before the effective date of this section that lacks storage spaces in compliance with this section, suitable storage spaces (including spaces not protected by a sprinkler system) may be provided at alternative locations, if available, as approved by the department.

FC907.15.1 would require notification to the Department if there is a temporary suspension, discountenance, change of service provider, or any other change in service of central station monitoring.

o REBNY appreciates and supports the need for notification in the above provision and would like to stress the importance that this remain as a notification requirement only rather than evolving into an approval. Buildings frequently have to temporarily suspend the fire alarm system at a moment’s notice for short periods of time for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to renovations, modifications, inspections, maintenance, deep cleaning, and rising temperatures. Given the frequent need to immediately suspend a system, an approval process would be impracticable.

Thank you for the consideration of these points.