NYC to Update Nearly Century Old Fire Code

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced yesterday that the New York City Fire Department has completed a final draft of a new Fire Code--the city's first comprehensive revision since 1918. The changes come after an extensive three-year revision project to review and update fire safety standards throughout the city.

A key issue addressed is the inclusion of new provisions controlling hazardous chemicals, which were called for by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board following their investigation into an April 25, 2002, explosion at a building owned by sign maker Kaltech Industries, which injured dozens of people, including New York firefighters who were there to rescue survivors.

"I am encouraged that New York City is proposing the adoption of an updated model fire code that will better control the kinds of hazardous materials that caused the Chelsea explosion and have the potential to continue to threaten public safety," said CSB Board Member and Interim Executive William E. Wright in a prepared statement. "This code is needed to control hazardous chemicals. I think the adoption and use of a modern fire code will make New York a safer place to work and live. We would hope that other municipalities would follow suit and similarly revise outdated fire codes that fail to address the use and storage of hazardous chemicals."

The proposed new Fire Code is based on a model code, the International Fire Code (IFC), which is published by the International Codes Council, Inc. The IFC was carefully reviewed and revised by the department, including fire officers, engineers, civilian inspectors, and legal staff. Throughout the revision project, members of the city council and the city's Department of Buildings were consulted, as well as industry representatives from real estate, building management, design/engineering, manufacturing, and trade, union, and public utility organizations.

The public can submit comments on the proposed fire code--viewable at www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/firecode/index.shtml--by Dec. 28, 2007, through an online form located at www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/firecode/feedback.shtml. A public forum will also be held at FDNY Headquarters, 9 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY, on Dec. 20, 2007, at 9:30 a.m.

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