The deadly terrorist attacks on 9/11 in 2001 came as a big wake up call to the New York City government for they led it to the conclusion that the measures for fire protection within high rise buildings in the city were not sufficient to protect the occupants of the buildings. As a result, a special task force was created to look into the matter and come up with new protection measures that were better suited for the purpose and the result of their work was the Local Law 26 of 2004, better known simply as LL 26/04. The law specified a new set of requirements for both existing buildings as well as new ones that would come up in future, in addition to specifying deadlines within which the requirements had to be met.
The requirements stipulated under Local Law 26 can be classified as either retroactive or proactive depending on the types of buildings to which they applied and the timelines within which they were to be fully implemented.
Proactive requirements– these are requirements that targeted new construction projects and renovations that would come up after the laws were passed.
Retroactive requirements– these were targeted at all buildings that were already in existence at the time and specified conditions that all those buildings had to meet regardless of whether or not they were planning to carry out any renovations. Of the two types of requirements, the retroactive requirements are probably the most difficult to deal with since they introduced many things that the engineers had not foreseen when they designed the buildings, unlike the proactive requirements which can be factored in right from the design of buildings. On the bright side, most of the conditions specified under the retroactive requirements of Local Law 26 were relatively simple and straightforward with short deadlines that expired in 2006 and 2007- except for one.
MandatoryInstallation of Sprinklers
The one retroactive requirement that was most complex and which had the longest deadline was regarding the installation of functional sprinkles in buildings. According to this requirement, all buildings that were classified as business group occupancies and which were at least 100ft high had to install fully functional sprinkler system within a maximum period of 15 years. The deadline for the installation was set as July 1, 2019. But that is not all, other complexities of this regulation included the following;
- If a building that is over 100ft high and which was previously not covered under Local Law 26 gets converted to a group B occupancy classification then the retroactive requirements apply and must be met at the time of conversion- the 2019 deadline does not apply.
- Existing buildings have to deliver an interim report by July 1, 2018 if they plan to meet the requirements by the 2019 deadline but have not already done so.
Exceptions to Local Law 26 retroactive sprinkler installation requirement
According to LL 26/04, there are only two scenarios in which a building may be exempt from full sprinkler installation and they include;
- If the building is designated as an interior landmark and it is deemed that sprinkler installation would alter the building dramatically.
- Non-landmark buildings in which sprinkler installation is not possible because of their structural conditions.