New York City cracks down on fire code violators

Several commercial buildings have outstanding fire code violations, resulting in the arrest of more than 100 people this month alone.


According to a story in the New York Times , more than 100 people have been arrested in New York City this month as part of a continuing effort to crack down on buildings with outstanding fire code violations — everything from a Costco in Brooklyn to a Merrill Lynch in Manhattan to small auto repair shops in Queens and the Bronx.

City officials first took aim last July at the thousands of building and business owners and workers at commercial and residential sites who have ignored citations for violations of myriad fire safety rules.

But city officials—who began the crackdown after an unrelated inquiry regarding the city’s monitoring of smoke and noise complaints in Queens bars turned up numerous unanswered summonses for fire code violations—have stepped up enforcement in recent days.

Since last July, 225 people—including 107 since June 2—have been arrested on misdemeanor charges of failing to appear in court to answer outstanding criminal summonses for fire code violations, according to the chiefs of the two agencies that collaborated on the case: Nicholas Scoppetta, the fire commissioner, and Rose Gill Hearn, the commissioner of the Department of Investigation.

The strategy of aggressively tracking those charged with the violations by enforcing open warrants against them, some dating back more than a decade, marks a departure from the old method, under which fire inspectors issued violation orders and followed up if possible.
The Fire Department conducts about 300,000 inspections a year and issues about 900 summonses for open violations each month; but afterward, follow-up was generally left to the courts.

New York City's document on Identifying and Remedying Building and Fire Code Violations

New York City Building Codes

December 2007 New York Times article entitled Updated Fire Code Is Offered to Mesh With Revised Building Rules

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