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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Building Code Violations and How they Endanger Firefighters

Building code violations can cause fires and endanger firefighters in the line of duty. A building code violation can often directly or indirectly result in firefighters sustaining serious injuries. Below, the attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. further explain how building code violations pose a risk to firefighters. 


Building Codes

Building codes are a collection of laws and regulations that apply to a municipality or state. They cover new construction, remodeling, restoration and repairs, as well as define room sizes, ceiling heights, lighting, heating and ventilation requirements. In addition, building codes are put in place to ensure that buildings have enough structural stability for effective escape routes in the event of a fire. They also outline measures a building owner needs to put in place for fire prevention and safety.


Building codes do not define how buildings are to be constructed. It is up to the team of architects and engineers designing the structures to test them and certify that they meet any codes enforced by the respective state or municipality. 


Today’s model building codes are the following: 


Building codes protect patrons and employees. However, they also protect firefighters in the case of a fire. 


Building Code Violations 

Building code violations can pose a danger in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. They can prevent individuals inside the building from safely exiting, as well as impact a firefighter’s ability to safely clear a building during a fire. 


Blocked Passageways

Blocked passageways and exit doors are some of the most frequent building code violations. Blocking passages with packages, carts, furniture or other obstacles can prevent a firefighter from safely being able to move from room to room or exit a building. 


Improperly Marked Exits

Not properly marking exits is another building code violation that can have devastating consequences. According to the NFPA 101 Handbook, exit signs for doors and corridors should be mounted above all doors and have emergency illumination. Illuminating exit signs can be critical in the event of an emergency that results in a power outage. Building codes require that emergency illumination should be provided for a minimum of 90 minutes in the event of a lighting failure. 


These illuminated exit signs can help mark exits for firefighters. If a building fails to have these signs, a firefighter’s ability to exit a building may be compromised. 


Blocked Fire Department Connections

Blocked fire department connections (FDC) and valves are another building code violation that could lead to firefighter injury. Quickly connecting to the fire protection system via the FDC and rapidly operating exterior valves are critical aspects of fire department response time. Boulders, trees, berms, pallets, vehicles, tractor trailers and other items in the way of the FDC or other access points are violations of building codes that allow fires to increase in size, deter the rescue of occupants and potentially increase the risk of firefighter injuries. 


Fire Sprinkler System Defects

Issues with fire sprinkler systems can also be building code violations that increase risk to firefighters. An outdated or incorrect fire sprinkler system may not be designed for the hazard or specific storage commodity of the building. If a sprinkler system is blocked by high-piled storage areas, it may not deploy properly. If fire sprinklers do not deploy correctly because of a building code violation, the size of the fire is allowed to grow, potentially increasing firefighter injuries. 


Lack of Fire Extinguishers

According to building codes, all buildings should be equipped with an appropriate amount of fire extinguishers. A missing or expired extinguisher prevents a small fire from being controlled. This presents the risk that a fire could cause extensive damage to the entire building or complex. A lack of working fire extinguishers unnecessarily increases potential injury to firefighters. 


Missing or Dead Smoke Alarms

Most building codes require working smoke alarms. Smoke alarm batteries are required to be replaced every 3-5 years depending on the manufacturer. If a building is missing smoke alarms or has smoke alarms with dead batteries, the alert of a fire in the building may be delayed. 


Contact the New York Firefighter Injury Attorneys If You Have Been Injured

As General Counsel to the 8,000-plus member New York City Uniformed Firefighters Association, Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. is fully aware how these true heroes of our society place themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of our citizens. Building code violations can cause fires and endanger firefighters in the line of duty. In the event of an emergency, identifying the codes that were violated takes expertise and knowledge of the law—both of which you will find when working with the New York City firefighter injury lawyers at Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. Give us a call at (212) 732-9000 to learn more.

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