A floor-by-floor survey of conditions in all 110 buildings of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (ST/PCV) has revealed serious violations of fire door safety regulations. The survey, conducted in late spring by Tenants Association volunteers, discovered instances in all but four buildings in which fire doors do not close properly, in violation of Fire Code requirements that fire doors be self-closing. The TA has brought the survey results to the attention of Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano and Sean Sullivan, General Manager of ST/PCV.
At a meeting with members of the TA Board on Monday, July 9, Mr. Sullivan said that he took the issue of the fire doors very seriously and will work to correct any violations issued by the Fire Department.
In its letter to Mr. Sullivan, the TA reported that its volunteers walked both stairwells on each floor and checked the fire doors. They fully swung open each door, testing for compliance with the Fire Code and Building Code requirements. The TA’s volunteers checked more than 2,900 doors in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and identified 587 doors (20%) in 106 of the community’s 110 buildings (96%) that did not self-close and latch, creating a potentially hazardous situation.
In response to the TA letter dated June 1, 2012 outlining their findings to New York City Fire Commissioner Cassano, the New York City Fire Department has initiated a program to inspect each building in ST/PCV and has issued violations in eight buildings to date.
In addition to the findings on the doors, the TA’s volunteers noted buildings that were missing floor indicator signage in hallways, on stair doors, and in stairwells; standpipes that were locked and chained; piping passing through holes larger than the pipes themselves creating a path for fire and smoke to travel; and what are unsafe and non-code-compliant window safety panes, such as plastic, in the fire doors themselves.
The Tenants Association is also outraged that, in addition to the safety findings, the volunteers found substantial evidence of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use in the stairwells as well as indications that people have been using stair landings to relieve themselves and their dogs. The TA sees these abuses as a direct outcome of the suspensions of the vertical patrols by PCV/ST Public Safety that were standard procedure for years.
With respect to the safety issues, a FDNY Fire Inspector described the failure of self-closing doors as “extremely dangerous, because it could fail to stop the spread of fire — and especially smoke — to other areas of the structure.” The FDNY Inspector indicated that such violations could have a severity level that equates to “the immediately hazardous category.”
A spread sheet detailing the findings building-by-building and floor-by-floor was included with the letters to both Commissioner Cassano and Mr. Sullivan.
“We wanted to give them the complete picture, not just a summary,” said John Marsh, the Tenants Association’s new president. “This type of safety inspection should not be left to tenants to conduct. Management must recognize its obligation to regularly inspect the doors to ensure that they are operating properly. Failure to maintain fire doors throughout the community is a situation that presents a very real danger to the lives and safety of the residents of our community.”