Photos by Kathleen Aitken
NEW YORK STATE (September 18, 2014) – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed legislation (A1896/S6675) that requires property owners to notify their local governments whenever a newly constructed or rehabilitated residential structure is comprised of a truss type, pre-engineered wood or timber construction. While this construction method is safe for normal use, it can also become fragile and collapse with little or no warning when exposed to fire. This required notification process will allow local governments to provide fire departments and first responder organizations with information about buildings that employ this particular construction design.
“First responders put their lives on the line to protect those around them. It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that they come home safely, and this law is a crucial way to live up to that charge,” Governor Cuomo said. “This legislation will help ensure that our firefighters and emergency personal are made aware of potentially dangerous situations before it’s too late. I thank Senator Martins and Assemblywoman Schimel for their work on this important issue, and I am proud to sign this bill into law.”
Truss type, pre-engineered wood or timber construction is often undetectable without advanced notice, and there have been multiple occasions in recent years where first responders were injured or killed while responding to fires in buildings that utilize this particular construction method and ultimately collapsed.
Under the law, property owners outside of New York City must indicate on a building permit application if this construction method is being used, in addition to affixing a sign or symbol to an electrical box on the building’s exterior. After being notified by a homeowner of the presence of this particular construction method, local governments must also inform the relevant first responders, including the local fire department, district or company, the county fire coordinator, local 911 and emergency dispatchers. The law takes effect on January 1, 2015.