Not only is October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s also National Fire Prevention Month. To that end, here’s a friendly reminder on fire safety plans, which are required for all residential apartment buildings with three or more units in New York City.
According to Local Law #10 of 1999, the fire safety plan must include two sections: one with information on the building, such as construction type and any fire safety equipment, and another with fire safety tips.
The building information section of the fire safety plan should include the following details:
- Address of the premises
- Name of the building owner and name/address of the owner’s representative
- Number of floors in the building, including any underground levels
- Year of construction
- Type of construction (combustible or non-combustible)
- Whether the space is equipped with sprinklers
- Whether the space is equipped with a fire alarm system
- Whether the space is equipped with a public address system
- All means of egress from the building, including general location of each
- Date the plan was prepared
Fire safety and evacuation information
The Fire Department of New York City also publishes fire safety and evacuation instructions that can be incorporated into the fire safety plan. General emergency instructions include the following:
- Stay calm. Don’t panic. Notify the fire department as soon as possible.
- Flame, heat and smoke rise, so a fire below your apartment generally poses a greater threat than a fire on a higher floor.
- If you exit the building during a fire, close the doors behind you to confine the fire.
- If caught in heavy smoke conditions, get down on the floor and crawl. Take short breaths and breathe through your nose.
Specific evacuation instructions for a fire inside your apartment include the following:
- Close the door to the room containing the fire, and leave the apartment.
- Make sure everyone leaves the apartment with you.
- Take your keys.
- Close, but do not lock, the apartment door.
- Alert neighbors by knocking on their doors as you leave.
- Use the nearest stairwell to exit.
- DO NOT USE THE ELEVATOR.
- Call 911 once you reach a safe location. Unless firefighters are on the scene, do not assume the fire has been reported.
The FDNY guide to fire safety plans also includes information specific to evacuating “non-combustible” or “fireproof” buildings, as well as for “combustible” or “non-fireproof” buildings. See also our FDNY Fire Safety Requirements for Landlords post.
Publication and distribution
Owners are required by law to post the fire safety plan on the inside of every apartment front door and in a conspicuous location in the common area. In addition, all new tenants should receive a copy of the plan upon signing a lease. The fire safety plan itself also needs to be updated and redistributed to residents and employees within 60 days of any significant change in building conditions that affect the plan.
Owners are required to maintain records of distribution for the fire safety plan. Acceptable forms of documentation include certified mail receipts from the U.S. Postal Service and signed/dated receipts for in-person distribution.