What NYC Building Owners Should Know About the Upcoming Deadline for Compliance with Local Law 26's Sprinkler Installation Mandates

June 29, 2018

The deadline for compliance with Local Law 26 of 2004, which mandated the installation of automatic fire suppression sprinklers in many buildings in New York City, is fast approaching, with the next compliance deadline set for July 1, 2018.

Local Law 26 of 2004 of the New York City Buildings Department amended the 1968 Building Code and mandated, retroactively, that all office buildings one hundred feet or more in height and buildings classified in occupancy Group E one hundred feet or more in height in existence on October 22, 2004 (these building are now Business Occupancy Group B) "shall have a full system of automatic sprinklers installed in accordance with this subchapter," and such installation is required to be completed on or before July 1, 2019.

Local Law 26 also mandated the filing of certain interim reports, the next of which is due on or before July 1, 2018 (unless a final report is filed on or before July 1, 2018). Local Law 26 provides as follows:

"Such fourteen year report shall contain a certification by an architect or engineer of the percentage of the building in which sprinklers have been installed as of the date of such report and an implementation plan, prepared by such architect or engineer detailing when and how the remaining portions of the building will be made fully compliant."

Failure to file such an interim report (and failure to file a final report on or before July 1, 2019) shall constitute a violation of Local Law 26, punishable pursuant to Section 26-125 of the New York City Administrative Code, pursuant to which any violation of Local Law 26 would subject a building owner to a fine of not more than $500, but also a penalty of not more than $5,000.

Certain exemptions may be available for buildings with interiors designated as landmarked by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and extensions may be available if a building is unable to complete the necessary installations before July 1, 2019, and can demonstrate an undue hardship; however, such extensions are only available to those buildings that have complied with the interim reporting requirements of Local Law 26 and have obtained approval of all required applications, plans and permits relating to the required work.

Local Law 26 applies to building constructed pre-1984. Pursuant to Local Law 5 of 1973, pre-1984 buildings were given two options for fire protection. If the building owner chose the sprinkler option of Local Law 5 and the sprinkler system installed was signed off prior to October 2004, then the building is exempt from the requirements of Local Law 26, though a compliance affidavit must be filed attesting to compliance with Local Law 26.

If, however, the building owner chose the compartmentation option under Local Law 5, the building must have sprinklers installed by the July 1, 2019 deadline, including the filing of the interim reports as well as a final compliance affidavit and report.

Our Construction Group is well versed in issues relating to compliance with the New York City Building Code.

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