By: Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
It’s weighty, it’s long—and it can save lives. It’s the update to the NYC Fire Department’s 25-page “Fire Emergency Preparedness Guide and Notices.” While some of the material dates back to 2000, the changes bring the guide current with present-day technology and practices. It expands the scope to encompass preparedness and procedures for non-fire situations, such as medical emergencies, severe weather, power outages, hazardous materials releases and terrorist-related incidents, and even earthquakes and tornadoes, though both are rare in New York.
In another action, Local Law 117 of 2018 requires owners of residential buildings to provide knobs for gas-powered stoves for units with a child under six years. The law was passed after a tragic fire in December 2017 killed 12 in the Bronx when a three-year-old playing with the stove ignited a fire.
The “Fire Emergency Preparedness Guide and Notices” is in two parts. Part I asks for specific building information including construction, fire protection systems and means of egress. Little of this is changed from the original guide.
Part II, which the city requires owners to email or distribute printed copies of to residents and staff, promotes fire safety and prevention and recommends procedures for a fire or other emergency. The guide emphasizes creating an evacuation plan for families and organizing a support network to assist the elderly or disabled who require assistance, such as when the elevator is shut down.
The guide should be given to all new residents and distributed every three years. Additionally, an emergency update, not exceeding four pages, should be posted and distributed to all residents in August of the non-distribution years with updates on procedures and building information.
Matthew Adam Properties is providing printed copies of the guide to residents in the properties we manage. We urge everyone to read the guide, as it is an excellent refresher course for emergency responses and provides new information. Buildings with websites will also have the information posted.
New disclosure requirements include posting a fire safety notice summarizing procedures in the event of a fire. There are separate notices for fireproof and non-fireproof buildings that describe what to do depending on the location of the fire.
The guide instructs families to identify a place to meet if they are separated in evacuating the premises or if they were not at home when the emergency occurred.
Most of us do not plan for an emergency and what we would need if forced to evacuate our home or live with reduced utility services. Both an in-home emergency kit and a bag to carry out should have sufficient supplies for seven days. The Home Emergency Supply Kit would include one gallon of drinking water per day per person, ready to eat canned foods and an opener, a first aid kit, flashlight, battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
The Go Bag can be a backpack or small suitcase on wheels. It would include valuable documents, such as copies of insurance cards, birth certificates, deeds and proof of address, in addition to copies of credit cards, cash and an adequate supply of medications taken daily. Both the emergency kit and Go Bag should be updated annually so items and medication are fresh. Copies of prescriptions should be included.
There is some confusion as to whether the shareholders/unit owners or the boards of co-ops and condominiums are required to provide the knobs to comply with Local Law 117. The law requires the owner to notify all tenants about the new requirement of a stove knob for all appliances where a cover is compatible. Parents of children six and under in the building can decline the knobs in writing, as can other residents. Matthew Adam Properties is distributing the notifications to all our buildings and will provide the knobs for those eligible. The knobs are available in many hardware stores and from Amazon and range in price from five to fifteen dollars.
We encourage everyone to read and follow the recommendations of the Fire Department’s guide. It provides valuable information on planning and reacting in an emergency. Often, a tragedy occurs when there is no forethought or a lack of knowledge of basic emergency response procedures.
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
375 Pearl Street, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10038