Printer Friendly

Shedding light on building code amendments.

Safety for office workers who occupy in the commercial high-rises of New York City is a key issue that has led the NYC Council to amend existing building code laws.

The New York City Council, working in conjunction with Department of Buildings, has amended Local Law 26 of 2004 'LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE BUILDING SAFETY.'

This recently enacted legislation is part of an initiative to improve safety in the wake of the 9/11 tragedies and summer blackout of August 14, 2003.

Following the World Trade Center attack, a World Trade Center Task Force was formed and made recommendations that influenced the new building code amendments.

The WTC had installed Photoluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) safety markings following the February 26, 1993 bombing in the parking garage.

The continuous photoluminescent (PL) markings provide an emergency evacuation pathway guidance system and 9/11 survivors reported seeing and following the PL stripes on the stairs, railings and stairwell doors as they made their escape.

Effective July 1, 2006 all commercial buildings (occupancy group E--high rise) will be required to have exit path markings conforming to a newly formed Reference Standard 6-1. All existing commercial high-rise buildings must complete this retrofit work by July 1, 2006 and file affidavits with the DOB by the same date.

A copy of the Reference Standard can be viewed at the Department of Buildings website: http:// whatsnew.html#draft

The new laws present numerous challenges to commercial high-rise building owners and managers. There are numerous considerations to be made before purchasing and installing photoluminescent materials.

Class E Commercial high-rise building owners will have to install low level emergency evacuation way-finding markings on doors leading to emergency stairs, on stairwell walls and handrails; they are required to mark stair steps, mark paths around potential hazards, and obstructions (i.e. stand pipes); and install directional signage where the direction of exit is not clear.

What is your stair well's existing lighting? Present building codes call for a minimum of 2-foot candles as the minimum lighting level measured on the floor in exit stairs. Most buildings provide more. However photoluminescent materials will not charge adequately using incandescent light sources. Florescent lighting is best to properly charge PL markings. Another consideration relates to buildings using motion sensor activating light switches that turn lights on when someone enters a stairwell. These have proliferated as an energy savings device. Motion sensors can no longer be used, as they will prevent the continuous ambient light needed to charge the PL.

Walls and floors both require PL markings. Walls will need solid and continuous PL markings--a continuous stripe of PL running along the wall surface to be followed by evacuees As a result there are many issues to consider specifically the condition and texture of walls. Different wall and floor surfaces may require different methods of attaching the PL materials

Stair treads and stair landings and intermediate Platforms must be marked.

What construction are your building's steps? Common materials found are concrete, wood and metal. The Reference Standard calls for the entire width of the tread to be marked or owners can use a side edge marking option.

Stairway handrails must be marked. Does your building have circular pipe style; are they wooden, metal or irregularly shaped? The law provides an option for mounting PL on the adjacent wall surface in lieu of the handrails themselves.

Irrespective of the surface where PL markings are to be mounted, preparation work must be done in order to properly attach the markings to ensure they stay properly fixed to the wall, floors, stairs or doors. Building managers must closely inspect the existing conditions to determine if work needs to be performed prior to attaching the materials.

Cleaning and other preparation is necessary to ensure a reliable attachment if adhesives are used.

Who will install your properties PL markings? Property managers may be able to install PL systems using their own building's maintenance staff.

Depending upon the size and scope of their buildings, property managers with large portfolios may decide to hire a professional installation firm specifically trained to install the PL materials.

Some of the Photoluminescent companies offer all-inclusive services of surveying the buildings and providing a complete assessment of their PL needs, installation services and verification of compliance through preparation of affidavits to be filed with the department of buildings, finally offering a maintenance program to ensure that the signs and markings are kept in good condition and repaired or replaced as needed. A formal log must be maintained on the premises for inspection by the department of buildings and Fire department.

To date, property owners and managers have held off in purchasing PL materials and installing them. However it is now time for to begin evaluating their stairwell construction to ascertain what PL system will provide the best life-safety benefits and the best long-term value.

Remember July 1 2006 is the deadline for installation.

Other information related to Local Law 26 ...

The World Trade Center Task Force has made several different recommendations to improve building safety beyond photoluminescent markings, many of which have been incorporated into the amendments to Local Law 26.

Sprinklers: All commercial building 100 feet and higher must be fully sprinkler equipped within 15 years. The compliance date is Jul. 1, 2019 deadline for completion of installation and certification of compliance

Additional Signage Where Egress Path Not Clear: All commercial buildings must install illuminated exit sign in stairs with horizontal extensions and transfer levels, they're required to mount wall signs where re-entry doors are recessed or around corners and are required to install wall signs where re- entry is restricted for more than four floors

Exit Sign Power Source: All business, educational, hotel, mercantile, industrial and institutional buildings All high-rise 75 ft. and higher must provide an alternate power source for existing illuminated exit signs. This can be a battery pack or generator.

Scissor Stairs: All high-rise office buildings where stairs serve a floor greater than 10,000 SF. The Exit Stairs are prohibited from sharing a common wall, floor, ceiling, etc., where these two stairs are required to be remote.

Fire Tower Option: All buildings, regardless of height or occupancy may utilize fire towers in lieu of interior stairs or exterior stairs as a method of emergency evacuation egress. There are other several other proposed amendments being worked on relating to improving building safety including Elevator Vestibules, Impact Resistant Stair & Elevator Enclosures, Construction method of Open Web Steel Joists, Inspection of Existing Fireproofing.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Banking & Finance
Author:Lipstein, Evan
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 15, 2005
Previous Article:Show offers full schedule of informative seminars.
Next Article:High-tech system creates calm from chaos.

Related Articles
New ruling sheds light on scope of section 246A.
Architectural correctness?
A Glossary for Multihousing Professionals.
Mayoral hopeful Peter Vallone keynotes Queens housing expo.
The sidewalk shed: A necessary evil or owners' cash cow?
Alphabet soup: a glossary for multihousing professionals. (Alphabet soup).
Amendments to Regulation J.
California firms urged to monitor local building code adoption.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters