New safety law affecting apartment buildings and hotels goes into effect in early 2017

New FDNY Signage Requirements for 2017 RCNY 505-01, entitled "Apartment and Guest Room Identification and Directional Markings and Signs," and 3 RCNY §505-02, entitled "Apartment, Guest Room and Stairwell Fire Emergency Markings"
NYC Apartment Door marking
NYC Apartment Door marking
NEW YORK - Feb. 13, 2017 - PRLog -- Recently in Brownsville, Brooklyn a 1-year-old boy living on the 13th floor of 260 Mother Gaston Blvd. died when flames broke out in his high-rise apartment building.

On December 17th fire broke out on the 11th floor of a 31-story apartment building located at 2111 Southern Blvd. in the Belmont section of the Bronx, killing a woman.

On December 27th without warning, a four-alarm fire erupted on the Upper West Side at 515 West 59th St. caused by careless use of a candle cited by an FDNY official. Twenty-four people, including four firefighters and an 8-year-old girl, were seriously hurt.

Also on December 27th, a fast-moving blaze ripped through a four-story apartment building in Kips Bay at 122 Lexington Ave. Thankfully no residents were injured or killed, but two dogs belonging to a resident died.

Tragically, serious injuries and deaths in multifamily, residential buildings are thematic. Evidenced by these sad events, heartbreaking incidents occur with regularity and without warning. Thankfully the FDNY has taken new steps and made new measures to help improve the safety of people living in multifamily apartment buildings in New York City.

New York City residential property owners and managers must be aware of a new local law requirement affecting their properties.

In June of 2016, The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) adopted a new rule which has become a brand new New York City safety law:

3 RCNY §505-01, which makes very specific new requirements for apartment and guest room identification signs along with directional markings and exit signs. All apartment buildings and hotels in New York City must comply with this new requirement for apartment door markings and and other signs by March 30th of 2018.  However, if your property contains any duplex or triplex units, the property is required to comply much, much sooner. Occupancies with multi-floor dwellings (duplex, triplex) units must install these new markings by March 30, 2017.

This new safety law has set very specific standards and requirements for the design and placement of entrance door room number and letter markings for dwelling units. The law applies to all apartments, guest rooms and sleeping rooms in occupancy groups R-1 and occupany group R-2 buildings as well as installing building additional lobby and hallway corridor directional signs and exit signs.

The idea behind the law is that building owners mark apartment entrance doors with very specific emergency markings that serve to assist firefighters, first responders and building occupants to identify apartment numbers in smoke conditions that obscure the regular (eye-level) apartment door numbers signs.

Citing specifics from the rule, "The marking of entrance doors with emergency markings serves to better facilitate firefighting operations, thereby providing a greater level of safety to firefighters and building occupants. The fire emergency marking enables firefighters to identify apartment numbers in smoke conditions that obscure the regular (eye-level) door numbers. Such identification ensures firefighters can more quickly conduct search and rescue operations. Additionally, the fire emergency marking for multi-floor dwelling units will make it possible for firefighters to ascertain whether they are entering the lower level of an apartment, rather than the upper level of an apartment, where temperatures may be unsafe."

The fire emergency marking also assists in identifying apartments that are joined horizontally (such as adjoining apartments that have been combined into a single dwelling unit).

Specific required symbols and apartment numbers must be of a specific size and materials. All of these signs must be either photoluminescent or retro-reflective. The entrance door markings and signs have the further design requirements: All letters and numbers shall be san serif, not less than one-half inch in height, and shall use Arabic numerals and/or English alphabet capital letters. All signs are low-mounted and must be placed no higher than 12" inches from the floor at each entrance that has the apartment number.

"This is so when we are crawling on the floor, we can find the apartment," said FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer. "We must have as much information as possible."

Property owners and managers are advised to take heed to abide by this new safety requirement as soon as possible. This low-cost measure will help control the response to a blackout, fire or smoke emergency and possibly help prevent loss of life.

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