New York City Council recently honored members of the Mechanical Contractors Association and Steamfitters Local 638 for their commitment to helping reduce the number of fire-related deaths in the City of New York.
Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, chairwoman of the Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, presented the group with a citation at a City Hall ceremony on Tuesday, April 9.
Mechanical Contractors and Steamfitters install the fire suppression systems which have helped make New York City the safest large city in America.
The event was held to remember the 40th anniversary of the passage of Local Law 5 in 1973, which was a key first step that has led to a dramatic 70% reduction in fire deaths since that time.
The landmark legislation was passed after two fatal office building fires in 1970 that killed five people and injured dozens.
The legislation required existing high-rise office buildings more than 100 feet tall to be equipped with stair pressurization and compartmentalization or a sprinkler system. The city recently announced the lowest number of fire deaths in history with 58 last year. By contrast, 1973 had 295 fatalities.
A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology released on April 10 noted, “A properly engineered and maintained fire sprinkler system can be highly effective in limiting the size of an unwanted building fire. Sprinkler systems are effective at protecting building occupants, firefighters, and property.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said at the ceremony: “This is important work, it is complicated work. It is work that if it is done wrong, in exactly the moment of emergency when you need it to be right, you don’t want it to be done by non-union folks, who have not had — by no fault of their own — the training and the expertise and the apprentice time they need.
“Cause I don’t want a sprinkler to be like, ‘Oops. If someone had a few more hours of training it would’ve worked.’ For them it is too late.”
Patrick Dolan, President Steamfitters Local 638, commented, “As steamfitters, we install the highly elaborate fire sprinklers and fire suppression systems in New York City’s skyscrapers.
“Historically, when lives are lost due to tragic and fatal fires, new laws are written to protect both life and property and data clearly demonstrates that when building owners adhere to the new legal mandates it makes a tremendous difference in the reduction of fire fatalities.
“Steamfitters Local 638 has been proud to work with Speaker Quinn and Councilmember Crowley on critical fire safety legislation.”