Common NYC Fire Code Violations

New York City’s housing predominantly consists of multi-family dwellings. The same can be said about most of its commercial buildings, with one building commonly playing host to multiple companies. As a result, when a fire emergency happens anywhere in the city, it rarely affects one family or business. Often, dozens or more are affected by a single fire incident.

Therefore, it is so imperative for business owners and residential occupants to be aware of the most common NYC fire code violations and how to avoid them. In this post, we will share the top eight New York fire code violations that account for a large majority of fires that occur within the city.

Improper Use of Extension Cords

The improper use of extension cords might seem like no big deal, but it is not only one of the most common code violations it is also one of the most dangerous! Extension cords are designed for temporary use only, but they are frequently used as permanent power delivery sources in many homes and businesses. Unfortunately, the longer an extension cord is used, the more likely it will become a serious fire hazard.

Extension cords should never be attached to other extension cords. They also should not be used to power permanent fixtures or be passed through holes in the wall. The safer option is to add more outlets to the home or business.

Improper Fire Safety Signage

The whole purpose for fire safety signage is for it to be easily seen by those needing to evacuate a building. But unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find fire safety signage poorly maintained in many buildings throughout the city.

All commercial buildings in New York City are required to have illuminated, unblocked exit signs, and most are required to have battery backups that allow the signs to remain lit for 90 minutes during power outages. These signs and their battery back-ups should be checked monthly and are required to be professionally tested and certified annually to pass fire safety inspections.

Blocked Fire Department Connections and Valves

In a fire, time is of the essence. Anything that can cause a delay in the fire department from accessing the water connections and valves they need to fight the fire can result in damage to the building, loss of assets, and even death. Unfortunately, one of the most common fire code violations in New York City is blocked exterior fire department connections (FDC).

All exterior fire department connections need to be accessible for the fire department to instantly connect and operate the valves to extinguish the fire. Additionally, there should be an open path from where the fire department will stage operations to the fire hydrants, the valves (post- and wall-valves), and the FDC.

Faulty Smoke Detectors

Whether the smoke detectors are faulty or equipped with dead batteries, this problem remains one of the most common (but arguably the easiest to fix) of all fire code violations. When a smoke detector battery runs low, it starts chirping, and instead of replacing the batteries immediately, the action taken is often to remove the batteries or disconnect the detector from its wiring harness. Unfortunately, this detector usually gets forgotten and the residence is thereafter left unprotected.

All smoke detectors should have their batteries replaced annually. It is recommended to replace the batteries on the same day every year to ensure they all work for the same amount of time. Smoke detectors should also be replaced every ten years whether they or not they still work.

Missing Fire Extinguishers

When a fire extinguisher is used, it should be replaced immediately. But this task often gets forgotten once the fire has been dealt with. As a result, missing or partially used fire extinguishers leave a building at risk and in violation of NYC fire codes as well as NFPA 10.

All fire extinguishers should be inspected and serviced annually by a certified and professional fire protection company. And after use, they should be refilled and reinspected or replaced.

Incorrect Sprinkler Systems

In New York City, tenant turnover is high. As a result, a commercial building can host a variety of companies under its roof over several years. In some cases, the original sprinkler system may not be appropriate for the building’s current inhabitants and if this is the case, it could be a New York fire code violation.

If you are in the process of changing buildings or buying a repurposed building, then it is your due diligence to consult with a fire protection company to have the sprinkler system evaluated to ensure it meets your commodity classification. If it does not, then you may need to have your sprinkler system retrofitted or updated to meet NFPA standards.

Objects Hanging from Fire Sprinklers and Piping

Most fire sprinkler systems feature bold labels and signage designed to prohibit items from being hung or draped over the sprinklers. But, because the pipes can make for a convenient place to hang clothing and other things, like holiday decorations and lights, people often disregard the notice, making it all too easy to accidentally activate them, causing costly water damage.

If your building has a sprinkler system with exposed piping, it is essential for your occupants to be aware of the risks hanging items from them can cause. Make sure you have the proper signage visible and check the system weekly to ensure your occupants are complying.

Failing to Keep Proper Records

Every time your fire protection system is serviced, maintained, and inspected; the fire protection company that performs the work provides you with a written record of the result. But if you use different contractors for each of these tasks, it can be difficult to keep your records in order. As a result, failing to keep proper records is one of the most common NYC fire code violations.

Every building owner is responsible for retaining copies of all records related to maintaining compliance with fire codes. This is easiest accomplished by using a single-source, reputable fire protection company. Using one company makes it easier to keep track of your records, so you can produce them quickly should the fire inspector show up. Plus, by using one fire protection company, you can quickly and easily obtain new copies of all your records should you be unable to locate them in your database.

Metro Fire Inspections is a full-service fire protection company that can offer you the fire protection services and solutions you need to ensure compliance with NYC fire codes, including system design, installation, and upgrades. We specialize in white box, ground up, tenant space upgrades and full building retrofits. Contact us today to learn more about our services or click here for a free quote.