By Frank Fortino
Already, the first month of 2018 is gone, yet another example of how quickly time passes. An additional example—and one with potentially serious consequences—is the compliance deadline for Local Law 26 of 2004. The law requires all office buildings 100 feet or more in height to install a full sprinkler system by July 1, 2019.
Other provisions of the law include the following:
- Submit an initial Owners Affidavit to the Department of Buildings (DOB) by July 1, 2005. This report documented the status of the building’s sprinkler system, whether it had partial sprinkler coverage (and where) or no sprinkler protection at all.
- File a 7-Year Report by July 1, 2011, informing the DOB of the progress made during the previous six years. Details included which floors had full or partial sprinkler coverage.
- Submit the 14-Year Report to the DOB by July 1, 2018. This report certifies the percentage of the building currently sprinklered and details the implementation plan for full compliance.
- File a Final Report by July 1, 2019, confirming that the building has full sprinkler protection and complies with LL 26/04.
Extensions and Non-Compliance
Buildings that cannot meet the 2019 compliance deadline can request an extension by submitting a hardship letter to the DOB. The letter needs to detail the “undue hardship” that prevented compliance. By the way, DOB has already made clear that it will reject extension requests “due to extended leases the floors and/or space cannot be sprinklered at this time.” Hardship reasons that will be considered, per Building Code Section 27-929.1, include:
- Interior landmark status of some building portions
- Structural conditions that prevent sprinklering parts of the building
Hardship letters must be submitted after July 1, 2018, the deadline for the 14-Year Report. In addition, these letters must be accompanied by proof that the Owners Affidavit and the 7- and 14-Year Reports were filed with, and accepted by, DOB.
All buildings not in full compliance by July 1, 2019—whether or not a hardship letter is submitted, and accepted—will receive a Local Law 26/04 violation. While no monetary fine is currently associated with this noncompliance violation, that may change. Removal of the violation requires 100% compliance, as confirmed by filing the Final Report.
Exceptions to LL 26/04
Along with death and taxes, we can safely add “exceptions” to the list of life’s inevitabilities. According to Section 903.2 of the 2014 New York City Building Code, sprinklers are not required in the following:
- In electrical equipment rooms that meet all of the following conditions . . .
a. Dedicated exclusively to electrical equipment
b. Uses only dry-type electrical equipment
c. Equipment is installed in a two-hour, fire-rated enclosure, including protection for penetrations
d. Does not allow combustible storage
- Elevator machine rooms and elevator machinery space
Building Code Section 903.3.1.1.1 states that sprinklers are not required:
- In rooms or areas protected with an approved automatic fire detection system that responds to both visible and invisible particles of combustion and an alternative extinguishing system approved by the Fire Commissioner
- Any room where the application of water, or the combination of flames and water, presents a serious life or fire hazard
- Any room or space where sprinklers are deemed undesirable due to the nature of the contents, when approved by the commissioner
- Generator and transformer rooms separated from the rest of the building by walls, floors, and ceilings or roofs with a minimum fire-resistance rating of two hours and where the generator does not use high-pressure flammable gas (more than 15 psi)
If your property is behind schedule, contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344. We can help you create an implementation plan.