Pols Call for a Review of Building Fire Codes After Deutsche Bank Blaze

By Chelsia Rose Marcius on September 20, 2012 8:02am 

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — State and local politicians gathered at the site of the fatal Deutsche Bank blaze Wednesday to call for a review of building fire codes, urging the FDNY and City Council to implement a set of recommendations for higher safety standards following the deadly 2007 inferno.

The recommendations — such as reporting the removal of hazardous materials and regularly informing the Fire Department of ongoing changes, including construction, at building sites —came from a state-city task force formed following the Deutsche Bank fire at 130 Liberty St. in August 2007.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron said the task force drew up a total of 20 recommendations in a report earlier this summer, hoping to avoid another incident like the Deutsche Bank tragedy.

“The fire at 130 Liberty St., where two firefighters were lost, occurred in a building not covered by the city building code and the city fire code,” Squadron said at a press conference Wednesday, held at the site of the former Deutsche Bank building. “And that building is not alone. There are hundreds of buildings in New York City that are not covered by the city fire codes.

“We are urging that those 20 recommendations be implemented immediately,” he added. “Every day that those recommendations are not implemented is a day that our first responders are at greater risk, and the thousands of people who use those buildings are at greater risk. That must end.”

Squadron and other politicians and representatives from the FDNY, including Richard Tobin, assistant chief of fire prevention, addressed the City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings and the Committee on State and Federal Legislation Wednesday to discuss the issue.

In a statement to the committees, Tobin said, "the FDNY’s inspection activities involving buildings in New York City have several layers… In addition to ensuring Fire Code compliance at these inspections, companies familiarize themselves with the buildings and check for violations of lawful occupancy, egress and sprinkler/standpipe requirements,” noting that the department has a cooperative relationship with the state.

Frank Dwyer, a spokesman for the FDNY, said that the department inspects all city construction and abatement sites every 15 days due to the changing nature of the locations.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who also spoke at Wednesday’s press conference, said state legislators ought to put state projects and buildings in New York City squarely under New York City buildings and fire code jurisdiction.

Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Manhattan Community Board 1, agreed with Gottfried, as well as the effort toward more stringent fire codes on buildings in lower Manhattan.

“The tragedy happened here, and we don’t want to see the tragedy happen in other neighborhoods,” she said.

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