FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM DECEMBER 12, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
New York City sprinkler law could cost owners big
BY TODD MAISEL
Th e city’s Department of Buildings will
begin enforcing a commercial sprinkler
law passed in 2004 requiring all New York
City landlords to install the fi re prevention
Despite the 15-year window for property
owners to get up to code, it was revealed
at a November City Council committee
hearing that about 1,100 buildings were
still not in compliance with the Local Law
26 — and 86 building owners have completely
ignored city notifi cations.
Th e window offi cially closed Dec. 1,
and all commercial building owners are
required to have installed sprinkler systems
in their buildings throughout the
city, including numerous city-owned
“Our goal is compliance,” said
Andrew Rudansky, a spokesman for the
Department of Buildings. “Building owners
who fail to comply with DOB orders
regarding these sprinkler requirements
may face additional violations, which
carry additional associated civil penalties,
until they come into compliance.”
Buildings offi cials revealed that 983
buildings have been issued Environmental
Control Board violations for non-compliance
with the sprinkler requirements.
Offi cials indicate that these buildings are
in various stages of compliance with the
law, as many are actively engaged in sprinkler
installation projects. Th e violations
come with civil penalties of $1,250, which
can be waived if building owners certify
that they are in compliance with Local
Law 26 within 40 days of the issuance.
Some of the more notable buildings on
the list include the Trump Building at 40
Wall St. and the New York Stock Exchange
– many of the older Wall Street buildings
were listed as non-compliant. Some of the
city buildings were owned by Department
of Corrections, Parks and Education.
Continued noncompliance with these
regulations could result in additional
fi nes, with civil penalties of up to $25,000.
Buildings will be subject to re-inspection
every 60 days — which could add to the
total monetary damages.
Experts in sprinkler installation told
QNS full compliance with the law is diffi
cult because older buildings may require
expensive asbestos abatement; some businesses
might also need to be relocated
Installing sprinkler systems can cost
upwards of $4 a foot, making the installation
process very costly for some owners
to aff ord. Once a system is installed, property
owners are further required to have an
engineer inspect every fl oor of their building
to certify compliance with the law.
In addition to city penalties, commercial
owners face liability should there be
a fi re in their building provided that they
are not in code compliance. One expert
said, “An insurance company might not
even want to cover damage or injuries in
a fi re and that might fall on the owner.”
As the city presses demands for sprinkler
compliance, the City Council is considering
a bill introduced by Queens
Councilman Barry Grodenchik, which
will require residential buildings 40 feet
or taller to have sprinklers installed within
10 years of the bill signing. Th e bill will
be considered in the 2020 session.
While it may be diffi cult for some landlords
to aff ord sprinklers and problematic
in many cases, Grodenchik maintained
that it is necessary because “the need is so
real because 85 percent of fi res are in residential
buildings and most of the fatalities
Th e new law also presents logistical
challenges for the Buildings Department,
which has hired 400 additional workers to
review hundreds of commercial sprinkler
applications. Many landlords are rushing
to complete compliance in some form,
buildings offi cials said.
Th e FDNY testifi ed last month with the
Department of Buildings commissioner
about the necessity of sprinklers, and
want the law enforced.
Frank Dwyer, FDNY deputy commissioner
said, “Sprinklers are an important,
life-saving tool which help reduce the risk
of danger during a fi re for both building
occupants and fi refi ghters.”
Success Academy is ‘left in limbo’ on middle school promise
Parents and leaders of Success Academy
Charter School in Queens are demanding
the city fi nd a new middle school for
Queens students now — and they’re ready
to take their case to City Hall again.
Members of the Success Academy community
in Jamaica say they feel as if they
have been “left in limbo” when it comes to
their children’s futures. Th e DOE’s deadline
for submitting an application for middle
school and high schools was Dec. 6, and
Success Academy parents still don’t have a
new middle school location to enter.
“It baffl es me,” said Roberta Doyle,
mother of a sixth-grader at Success
Academy’s current middle school co-location
at I.S. 59. “What could be more
benefi cial to a mayor than to have hundreds
and hundreds of kids on a trajectory
to top-tier colleges?”
Parents say they are adamant about
keeping their children in the Success
Academy system because of the school’s
On last year’s state exams, 99 percent of
Success Academy passed math and 90 percent
passed English. Doyle worries though
that her daughter will be cheated out of
full education. If a new middle school isn’t
found soon, 227 Success Academy students
would be forced to leave.
Th e DOE suggested a replacement,
the former home of Our Lady’s Catholic
Academy in Ozone Park, where middle
school students could start taking classes
starting in the 2020-2021 school year. But
aft er touring the location, Success Academy
rejected the site as too small and dilapidated
to appropriately accommodate students.
According to Success Academy, the site
needed new interior lighting and water
damage repairs potentially costing millions
of dollars. Even if those repairs are
done, the school would only had enough
space for 330 students.
“Equity and excellence for all’ means all
— all public school children, district and
charter,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and
CEO of Success Academy.
In the request for a new middle school
in 2017, was for 575 to 625 students. And
the need for more space will only increase,
as Success Academy projects that over the
next four years the number of Success
Academy elementary school students in
need of a middle school will jump to 1,000.
“It seems the mayor has decided that
just because I am a mother who decided
to send her children to a charter school,
I do not deserve to know where my
child will go to school,” said Sandrian
Campbell, parent of two Queens Success
Academy students. “My children are public
school students and they have the same
rights as district students.”
According to state law, the city is
required to provide free space for charter
school in public school buildings or help
pay for rent in private buildings.
Th e charter school argues that there is
plenty of underutilized space in Queens
schools to relocate the roughly 600 students
including; Catherine & Count Basie
Middle School in Jamaica, Mathematics
Science Research and Technology Magnet
High School in Cambria Heights, Beach
Channel High School in Rockaway Park
and the High School for Law Enforcement
and Public Safety in Jamaica.
Parents and Success Academy representatives
further pushed the city for a
replacement school during a rally on the
steps of City Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Photos by Todd Maisel
This commercial building in Brooklyn was destroyed in January by fi re – it didn’t have sprinklers.
Inset, a sprinkler head in the Blue Room of City Hall.
Photo courtesy of Success Academy Charter Schools
Parents, students and Success Academy Charter School leaders call for a new middle school location
during an October rally.