Building Safety: A Purposeful Commitment by New York City

Feb. 23, 2005
The events of 9/11 remain at the forefront of our memories, as well as in the industry’s heightened sense of responsibility for people in their work environments. Although building staff and fire and emergency authorities achieved great success in their evacuation of so many of the building occupants, the tragically high number of fatalities underscored the need for all of us to review and test our escape plans and evacuation procedures.The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) has recently enacted Local Law 26/04, a multi-phased amendment to the Building Code of the City of New York in relation to building safety. This local law – which includes detailed provisions on elevator vestibules; exit lighting; exit signs; ventilation; fire alarm, command, and communications systems; sprinklers; and more for all office buildings 75 feet in height or higher – was the work of a task force led by the New York City Council and Commissioner of Buildings in New York City. The initiative involved the input of the real estate community, building owners and managers, the architectural and construction community, and fire and life safety professionals, etc.; the result may well become a precursor for building safety guidelines nationwide.One of the first of the 11 provisions, which has the most pressing installation deadline of July 1, 2006, involves photoluminescent markings on doors leading to exits and in exit stairs. These markings will be in addition to, and not as a replacement for, any existing required exit and/or directional signage, according to Geoffrey Peckham, president of Milford, PA-based Jalite USA, who headed up a group of professionals from the human factors, research, and photoluminescent industries to provide the city with recommendations for writing the photoluminescent markings requirement. Says Peckham, “One of our primary objectives was to make sure this implementation of the photoluminescent requirement goes very smoothly – that it satisfies the city’s requirements for improved safety but doesn’t place an undue economic burden on the city. The recommendation that was developed in August and September 2004 and submitted in October is a tool to form a basis from a standards perspective.” At press time, according to Peckham, the code was being written by NYC’s DOB and put out for public review, with an approximate date of completion – release by the Commissioner – sometime this month. Buildings will keep you posted on developments on this and other requirements of Local Law 26/04 in the coming months.Interested in learning more about photoluminescent code requirements in New York City, or photoluminescence in general? Contact Jalite USA at (800) 901-4374 or (; technical assistance is also available by e-mailing ([email protected]).

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