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Re: plants on fire walk: hazardous violation: possibly: why take chances?

Posted by Anna on August 20, 1999 at 23:20:44:

In Reply to: plants on fire walk: hazardous violation?? posted by ray howard on August 17, 1999 at 21:16:44:

Some of Ray's question:

: Another " hazardous " violation was written against four flower pots
: on the fire walk, costing $400 in fines.It was claimed that the pots ranging
: from 8.25" to 12" in diameter were blocking the egress. The Administrative code quoted
: Code quoted was 27-530, about places of assembly.

: Questions: If the exit was definitely not blocked, is the violation valid?

: If the Administrative Code # quoted does not match the actual " violation
: does that invalidate the citation?

One of DK's replies:

Posted by DK on August 19, 1999 at 04:48:46:

In Reply to: plants on fire walk: hazardous violation?? posted by ray howard on
August 17, 1999 at 21:16:44:

See my comments replying to your prior post. Even if the roof garden violates the
building code, if it is a required service, it is the landlord who is required to correct the violation.

Nothing (including flower pots) is permitted on any fire escape or the four foot width
of a required fire egress. I guess that the theory is that if there is a fire, it
may be dark and people rushing to escape may trip or in some way be hindered from
evacuating a building.

If the wrong section number is cited on a violation notice, the violation must be
dismissed, although a new, properly completed violation notice could be issued and served.

More info than you need:

Here is the actual code & one definition of 'place of assembly':

27-530 Means of egress.
Places of assembly shall be provided with exit facilities meeting all of the requirements of this
subchapter and all of the requirements of subchapter six of this chapter. A place of assembly
located in a building classified in another occupancy group shall comply with the exit
requirements of this subchapter, but may use the exit facilities of the building of which it is a part
as a means of egress from the building.


27-232 Definitions.
PLACE OF ASSEMBLY. An enclosed room or space in which seventy-five or more persons
gather for religious, recreational, educational, political or social purposes, or for the consumption
of food or drink, or for similar group activities or which is designed for use by seventy-five or
more persons gathered for any of the above reasons, but excluding such spaces in dwelling
units; or an outdoor space in which two hundred or more persons gather for any of the above
reasons or which is designed for use by two hundred or more persons gathered for any of the
above reasons.

Another definition of place of assembly listed only 75 people, not 200.

If you have one (a restaurant, church, store) in your building AND it shares the roof as a fire egress with the residents, then 27-530 could apply. If not, then, like DK said, the violation will be dismissed BUT ONLY if someone contests it at (or maybe before) the Hearing scheduled at the Environmental Control Board, ECB. Nothing gets dismissed by itself... If the OWNER pays the fine, he may try to make you pay: don't. He can also ceritify that the violation has been corrected (my building did that (they lied) & they didn't have to pay the fine).

RE: the fire egress: many of the laws (MDL, HMC, Fire Code, Building Code, etc) have that rule: no obstruction of the fire egress. Obstruction/blockage does NOT mean total blockage: even one pair of shoes is an obstruction and a tripping hazard. In most rowhouses, tenemants, converted brownstones, the two required fire egresses are the street door and the roof door. Both doors must be self-closing fire doors & openable from the inside without a key and cannot have hasp (hook&eye type) latches. And it is illegal to force these doors to stay open or to prevent them from opening.

However, I've never actually seen anything about a fire walk, a four-foot clear passage, on the roof itself, but it makes sense.

Another reason the owner's action is irrational: if he does not pay or certify or contest this violation, the Dept of Buildings can place a lien on his building, a super-lien! He could, in theory, lose the building! for more details:
New York City 'Super Liens' How They Arise, Take Priority BY MARVIN N. BAGWELL New York Law Journal August 9, 1999

Now, after all that book-learning, a little practical advice: take a lot of pictures, put the front page of a daily paper in the pictures, move the four plants, if they partially block a 'fire walk'...

I've done all these re fire hazards:

1. Locate & call you Community Board. goto: (there's a map somewhere...) Mine used to have a Building Inspector on site 1/2 day per month to answer our questions. Mine also had a very caring and knowledgable staff member. Yours might: call, ask to see someone in person, bring those papers.

2. Try your Assemblyman: mine has a L&T guy.

3. Call or go to the Dept of Buildings yourself: ask for a supervisor. Or to your local Fire Station. Or go to the ECB Hearing.

4. Your local Tenant Clinic: there are only four listed here on TenantNet, but there are more out there (somewhat scarce in August, tho)

ps: this hot dry summer was especially difficult for all roof, windowbox, and tree-pit gardeners, so thank you all for keeping NYC green!

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