The devastating terrorist attacks of 2001 left an indelible mark on the construction code in New York City. Fatalities would have been smaller, critics argued after the attacks, wouldn’t have died had the Twin Towers been built differently. In response to this criticism, then-Mayor Bloomberg signed Local Law 26 of 2004, which instituted more than fifteen major changes to both the Building Code and the Fire Prevention Code. At this point, building owners have long since had to institute most of these changes, which ranged anywhere from the types of permissible stairs in skyscrapers to luminescence of exit signs. However, building owners still have four more years to conform to sprinkler requirements.
What does the law require?
Per Local Law 26, sprinklers will be required in all office buildings 100 or more feet in height. Naturally, all new buildings must adhere, but the requirement is also retroactive for older buildings. This is no small requirement—sprinkler systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Does everyone have to comply? Are there any exceptions?
The only buildings eligible for exemption are those with interior Landmark designation or otherwise designed in such a way that it’s structurally impossible to install sprinklers. Buildings that still cannot afford to implement sprinklers, however, can apply for a hardship time extension.