NEW YORK CITY-Standpipes at high-rise construction and demolition sites must now be inspected more frequently, under new safety requirements announced Friday by Robert LiMandri, the city’s buildings commissioner. The standpipe protocols, developed in the wake of the fatal 2007 fire at the former Deutsche Bank building, take effect immediately.

Site safety professionals are now required to conduct a weekly “tracing” examination of the standpipe on each floor to verify that no breach exists throughout the building, according to a release from the Department of Buildings. The new requirements also increase the frequency of standpipe inspections, including daily inspections of the water and Siamese connections and the valves at each story below the construction floor. Previously, such inspections were conducted on a periodic basis or as appropriate, according to DOB.

The new daily and weekly inspections will be performed by a site safety manager and/or a site safety coordinator–both of whom are hired by a private contractor and must be certified by the DOB. The dates and results of these inspections are to be recorded in a site safety log that must be kept on the job site at all times. If site safety logs are found not to be in compliance during the inspection of construction sites, the DOB will issue violations and stop-work orders if necessary, according to a release.

Under the city’s building code, a standpipe system is required when a building is being constructed or demolished at a height greater than 75 feet. Such a system was in place at the Deutsche Bank building during its deconstruction process, but inspectors failed to discover that a 42-foot section of standpipe was missing on one floor of the contaminated office tower. The gap in the standpipe was considered one of the primary factors in the deaths of two New York City firefighters responding to a blaze at the 130 Liberty St. site in August 2007.

“Working standpipe systems are critical to fighting fires, and an increase in the number of standpipe inspections will lead to an increase in construction safety,” LiMandri says in a statement. “Construction and demolition work has inherent risks, but these risks can be mitigated by safety measures designed to protect construction workers, first responders and New Yorkers.”

The new protocols enact one of the 33 recommendations revealed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last July to strengthen inspection practices, increase inter-agency communication and improve the safety of construction, demolition and abatement operations, according to the DOB. An inter-agency working group had developed the recommendations after the fatal 130 Liberty blaze.

Both the city and the general contractor on the 130 Liberty project worked out agreements last month with Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau to implement remedial safety measures. Morgenthau on Dec. 22 indicted three construction supervisors and the subcontractor in connection with the Deutsche Bank fire; neither the city nor the general contractor, Bovis Lend Lease, were charged.

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