NYC WTC Task Force Identifies 21 Recommendations

"These recommendations are the result of months of careful deliberation and thought-provoking debate," announced New York City Dept. of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster, last month in unveiling the findings of a task force commissioned to study the problems revealed in the attacks against the World Trade Center a year and a half ago.

04/01/2003


"These recommendations are the result of months of careful deliberation and thought-provoking debate," announced New York City Dept. of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster, last month in unveiling the findings of a task force commissioned to study the problems revealed in the attacks against the World Trade Center a year and a half ago.

"Input from the best and brightest minds of our government agencies, non-profit groups and the private sector, along with contributions from members of the public, ensures that any revisions to our building code will go a long way toward making New York a safer city in which to live, work and build in these extraordinary times," says Lancaster.

Initially, four major areas that affect building performance and occupant safety during emergency events were considered: structural strength, fire protection, emergency evacuation and mechanical systems. An additional area for study was added—DOB operations —to consider whether New York City should adopt a model building code.

The task force gathered from many sources: research reports, empirical test results, inspection reports and news accounts. A forum was also conducted in August to get input from the public.

Following are the task force's non-binding recommendations:

  1. Publish structural design guidelines for optional application to enhance robustness and resistance to progressive collapse.

  2. Prohibit the use of open-web bar trusses in new commercial high-rise construction over 75 ft. in height, pending the development of an appropriate standard recommended by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).

  3. Encourage use of available impact resistant materials in the construction of stairway and elevator shaft enclosures until appropriate standards can be developed.

  4. Work with the Dept. of City Planning to exempt floor area of stairwells above minimum requirements from zoning floor-area-ratio (FAR) calculations to encourage the inclusion of more stairwells or wider stairwells in buildings.

  5. Prohibit the use of scissor stairs in high-rise commercial buildings with a floor plate of over 10,000 sq. ft.

  6. Improve the demarcation of egress paths, doors and stairs with photoluminescent materials, and retrofit existing exit signs with backup power.

  7. Mandate a full building evacuation plan for non-fire related events.

  8. Work with the Dept. of City Planning to exclude floor area of "fire towers" from floor-area-ratio (FAR) calculations to encourage the use of such calculations.

  9. Mandate protected vestibules at elevator lobbies in newly constructed occupancy group E buildings taller than 75 ft.

  10. Require controlled inspections to ensure that fireproofing is fully intact on all structural building members exposed by subsequent renovations to ensure continued compliance with applicable code requirements.

  11. Require all high-rise commercial buildings over 100 ft. without automatic sprinkler protection to install a sprinkler system throughout the building within 15 years.

  12. Require all occupancy group E buildings to maintain a building information card (BIC) listing a building's vital features.

  13. Enhance fire dept. emergency response communications in high-rise commercial buildings.

  14. Provide additional training for fire-safety directors.

  15. Limit diameter of fuel oil transfer piping in systems using day tanks.

  16. Implement standards for piping that is utilized to distribute fuel oil to equipment without the use of a day tank.

  17. Exclude floor drains for elevator vestibules and shafts from being counted as fixtures in calculating normal wastewater pipe capacity.

  18. Require air intakes in all new construction to be located at least 20 ft. above grade and away from exhaust discharges or off-street loading bays.

  19. Require controlled inspections of HVAC fire dampers in newly constructed occupancy group E buildings.

  20. Wait for the recommendation of mayoral commission on adoption of national model code and incorporate task force recommendations into any locally specific modifications.

  21. Encourage buildings within NYC geographic boundaries and subject to other jurisdictional authority to comply with NYC Building Code through collaborative agreements.

For the full report, please visit www.nyc.gov/html/dob/pdf/wtcbctf.pdf .





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