New Fire Prevention Plans in New York

New Fire Prevention Plans in New York

Having disposed of the accumulation of 13,000 complaints which he found in the Fire Prevention Bureau when he took office in January, one year ago, Fire Commissioner Adamson has announced that the Fire Prevention Bureau is now in a position to adopt a different policy in the matter of making building inspections. Heretofore it has been the policy to make inspections only upon complaints by citizens and reports of company commanders of dangerous conditions, and where such inspections were made they covered only the conditions complained of. Now, Commissioner Adamson states, the Fire Prevention Bureau is in a position to inspect any building from top to bottom where the owner desires such an inspection to be made. “We cleaned up during 1914 13,000 complaints that have been accumulating for five years past,” said Fire Commissioner Adamson, and we are now in a position to make complete inspections of buildings instead of piecemeal inspections. Heretofore there have been justifiable complaints that orders from the hire Prevention Bureau and other city and state departments requiring structural changes in a particular building are not all issued as the result of a single inspection of a building. During 1914 our inspectors were instructed when visiting a building to deal only with the matter complained of and not to spend time in going through the building from roof to subcellar for the purpose of reporting every condition requiring a remedy. If we had not adopted this policy we would never have disposed of the enormous volume of complaints which I found here when I came into office. One result of the system of inspecting only for the matters complained of is that owners have received orders at different times during the year requiring different structural changes to remedy different conditions that had been complained of to the Fire Department at different times. I feel, and the building owners feel, that they are entitled to be informed of all the requirements of this department affecting a building after a single inspection is made. I consider that the reports of the company commanders represented in general the most dangerous conditions in buildings in the city; and for this reason I considered it highly important that these be first cleaned up before we undertook to make complete inspections. Our plan has been, therefore, after cleaning up the accumulated complaint files, to devote the inspections first to conditions in certain classes of occupancy where the greatest hazard is involved, and when taking up a particular class of occupancy, such as lodging houses, to endeavor to inspect all within that class in the city, thus avoiding any possibility of unjust discrimination. There is now no reason, however, why any owner who desires to have his building thoroughly and completely inspected once for all, may not be accommodated with such an inspection. Any written request for such an inspection will be honored by the Fire Department; and as a result orders will be issued covering all the structural changes necessary to make the building fully meet the requirements of the Fire Department. Thereafter, for a period of years, the owner may reasonably expect to be free from inspections or orders of the Fire Department unless the character of occupancy or number of occupants of the building is radically changed. A certificate will be issued by the Fire Commissioner to the owner of the building that it complies fully with the requirements of the Fire Department as to structural conditions so long as the present character of occupancy and number of occupants are substantially maintained, and the Fire Department will call upon the owner thereafter only to make necessary repairs affecting the upkeep of the building. It will be necessary for the Fire Department to make inspections from time to time to sec that the fire appliances are kept in working condition, and particularly that tenants of the building do not introduce bad housekeeping practices, such as accumulations of rubbish and obstructions to fire escapes; but so far as the general structural conditions of the building itself is concerned the owner will be justified in depending upon the certificate of the Fire Commissioner as insurance against further orders, except for maintenance and upkeep.”

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