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Asbestos & the NYS Building/Fire Prevention Codes

The New York State Labor Department Engineering Services Unit has proposed changes to the State’s asbestos regulation, 12NYCR56, to formally integrate existing building and fire prevention standards into asbestos projects. It seems that the abatement industry has been able to sidestep many of the life safety requirements expected of the construction industry which may have lead to tragedies like the Deustch Bank Fire at Ground Zero in 2007. Here’s some detail on that:

On August 18, 2007 at approximately 3:40pm, a seven-alarm fire broke out on the 17th floor of the building, caused by workers smoking, carelessly and in violation of the building’s safety rules. By this time, the skyscraper, once 41 stories, had been reduced to 26, with crews removing a floor a week. At the time of the fire, crews were removing asbestos. The fire spread in both directions, affecting a total of 10 floors. The floors were filled with a maze of protective polyethylene sheets which were designed to prevent the spread of asbestos, but which also trapped smoke making fighting the fire extremely difficult. Firefighting was additionally hampered as the building did not have a functioning standpipe, forcing firefighters to raise hoses up from the street to combat the flames. The building had not been inspected since March, when it should have been inspected every 15 days. The fire burned into the night before being extinguished. 45 Engine Companies, 30 Ladder Companies, 3 Rescue Companies, 19 Battalion Chief Units, 4 Division Chief’s Units, and numerous other special and support units responded from the New York City Fire Department to combat the fire. The fire killed two FDNY firefighters, Joseph Graffagnino, 33, of Brooklyn, and Robert Beddia, 53, of Staten Island, who succumbed on the 14th floor to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, and injured 115 firefighters, 46 seriously enough to require medical leave. Plans to deconstruct the building continued as quickly as possible. In 2008, the Manhattan District Attorney indicted three construction supervisors and the demolition subcontractor, the John Galt Corporation. In July, 2011 the company was found guilty of second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, but the construction supervisors were acquitted of all charges that included manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. Read more in the New York Post.

The State DOL is pressing forward with revisions to the Code Rule that could be effective end of 2012 or early 2013. EEA has been working with Code Enforcement Officials (CEOs) and the New York State Department of State to prepare building professionals, emergency response personnel and abatement personnel to affect a smooth transition to the revised rule. EEA President, Andy McLellan and Dr. Jack Weisenborn, asbestos instructor emeritus and CEO, are in Syracuse today, April 5, 2012, for a two hour presentation for the NYS Building Officials Annual Conference (CNY Chapter). Our presentation (need adobe file on website) is NYS Department of State is approved for CEO continued education credits (CEUs). Contact EEA if you’re interested in a credit presentation.
Lot’s of great opportunities for certification training in April at our offices across the State, including:

40 hr Hazwoper in Syracuse next week, as well as a Lead Supervisor Refresher there

Asbestos Handler in Rochester

Asbestos Supervisor and Operations & Maintenance Refreshers in Buffalo

This week’s raffle winner is Michael Walker.
Make sure to visit our website to sign up for your chance to win.