We all have lived in a place and seen that place change. New buildings are quite common in New York City, and for us a common question is “What are they building this time?” We may think that it will be something that will look good in our community, but we never ask ourselves “How do they decide to build it or not?” In the meeting they talked about the new revision to building codes and new mandates.
In my perspective, I am so happy that I joined the meeting because I received some information that I never though that I need to understand why some construction sites takes long. In the presentation it was about how people who design or create a building have to go through many procedures. They don’t just see if the new building will look good in that spot or for the community, but they have to make sure that the area is in good condition. One of the procedures that they have to do is Elevator Safety Enhancements. For this procedure they have to make sure that it is easily accessible to establish clear compliance criteria for the Destination-Oriented Elevator System. That will ensure greater accessibility and usability for building occupants with diverse physical and cognitive abilities. They also have to make sure that the inspection time frames for elevators and boilers results in shorter time frames that will facilitate them being brought back into service faster. So before they decide to build something, they have to do many measurements to make sure that the building is safe for residents to live in. Another procedure that they have to follow is Construction Site Safety Enhancement. For this procedure they have to make sure that the ground is in a very good condition so that when they build it, it won’t fall down or won’t collapse with natural disaster. They also have to regulate new crane technology and create new license types to ensure the cranes are operated in a safe manner. These little things that we don’t ask ourselves or we see have to be taken before they start building.
Arely Cortes, WHSAD Senior
The NYC Buildings presentation was an hour-long session in which representatives from the department took the time to share information about new revisions to building codes and new mandates. The department covered many topics among them was the new code revisions to building fire safety and what they mean. One of the first important changes NYC Buildings made In the Emergency Response Enhancements highlight was an important note that increased the minimum required dimensions of elevator emergency hatches. They stated that this would provide greater flexibility to first responders, and in turn assist in emergency situations. Another great revision in the same highlight was the permission of using batteries to power auxiliary units for the “Fire Department endorsed Auxiliary Radio Communications System” or ARCS for short, which they stated would “greatly reduce the cost of providing this safety feature.” In the Fire Protection Enhancements Highlight portion, one important change was “Mandating the use of more stringent fire blocking, thermal barriers and testing where combustible exterior wall systems are proposed as an exterior wall covering.” In other words, NYC Buildings are mandating increased fire safety in buildings and the use of better fire protection. One more important change to fire safety was “Mandating where exits discharge to the exterior.” While this might seem like a no brainer, it is a great revision to fire safety. The more open a location for an exit is, the faster and more efficiently you can get people out in case of an emergency.
Some other miscellaneous revisions included the Article 210 revision which stated “Accepts 14 gauge as the smallest wire size allowed” The reason it was previously omitted was due to manufacturing problems back in the 1950s. Since then the production of 14 gauge wire has improved to the point where it is of no safety concern if used in electric applications today. Another change was the Article 210.12 revision which “Adds an exception to omit requiring AFCI protection in kitchen and laundry areas in multi-family dwelling greater than 3 stories.”
This was a great presentation and I’m happy that I was able to be part of it. I liked seeing the inner workings of the NYC Buildings Department and what revisions they were making to the code, building regulations, and building safety. I was able to relate to this presentation because of previous experiences I had when working with building codes. During my summer internship with SRW the engineering and architecture group, I was able to work with codes and see how they are used. I remember when Will, one of our supervisors, took out a building codes book. I was amazed at the size of it. I think it might have been half a foot tall and was filled with pages upon pages of codes and rules that he and his fellow architects and engineers had to use to make buildings certifiable by the government. And the crazy thing was, this was only one out of many books. I loved attending the presentation and seeing how changes are made to the codes and how safety and regulations evolve over time.
Matthew Zaczeniuk, WHSAD Junior