Purchase College’s close call: Editorial

A recent editorial in USA Today “Purchase College’s close call: Editorial” shows just how close a call students had at Purchase College when a fire ripped through several buildings. Fire sprinkler systems in college dorms help prevent the loss of life and property. It’s time for New York State to revise its’ campus housing fire sprinkler requirements.

First of all, we are all grateful that everyone is safe and sound. While some Purchase College students lost all their belongings in a fire that ripped through apartment-style dorms at the school, there were no injuries. But  some students lost all of their belongings.

But many questions remain, including: What steps can Purchase and other campuses in the state take to prevent future fire losses?

Classes started Aug. 29 at Purchase College, a SUNY school that’s known for its suburban Westchester campus and arts flair. On Sunday night, a kitchen fire erupted, quickly spread and destroyed two units in The Commons, a residential building also called “The New.”

The apartments on the campus’ K Street don’t have fire sprinklers. According to New York law, the building doesn’t have to. New York began mandating fire suppression sprinklers in 1984, and then only in newly constructed college dormitories; older residential facilities have to add fire sprinklers only if they undergo major renovations approved by the state’s Dormitory Authority.

More than 100 students were evacuated and won’t be able to return to their dorms for at least a week as power is restored. Displaced students are staying with friends on or off campus, or are being put up in nearby hotels, school officials say. But about 20 students lost everything they had brought with them as they settled back into college life; they will have to stay at a nearby hotel for the rest of the year.

New York weighed mandating a sprinkler retrofit following the 2000 fatal fire at a Seton Hall University residence hall in New Jersey. But the state ultimately decided that it would focus on stronger campus fire inspections and education programs. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a statement just two weeks before the Purchase fire, said: “New York passed legislation that instituted the most vigorous fire inspection program in the country.”

The state added another layer after a 2012 fire at Marist College in Poughkeepsie killed three students — the 2013 Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act requires public and private colleges to at least inform students and their families whether college-owned and operated housing is protected with sprinklers.

Information may be power, but sprinklers are a powerful deterrent to spreading fire.

Retrofitting sprinklers into dorms is costly. Groups like the National Fire Sprinkler Association still encourage it, and have suggested added fees to cover the cost; but many colleges, already under the gun for rising tuition and steep housing costs, have balked. According to 2011 figures from the National Fire Protection Association, 3,780 fires were ignited in dormitories, Greek housing and student barracks. Campus-related fires have led to 170 deaths since 2000.

On Aug. 26, Cuomo’s office announced a series of impending safety visits to public and private universities, led by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and Office of Fire Prevention and Control. During the visits, officials would conduct inspections, education programs and training. Purchase, with dorms that earned a D+ on the popular college-rating website Niche, was not on the initial list.

The Purchase community has shown great support for the displaced students, launching a drive to collect sundry needs, from clothing to store gift cards to school supplies. By Sunday afternoon, the Red Room of the school’s Student Services Building was overtaken by piles of clothing and other items. Snack items sat on a table — some even nut-free and gluten-free — as fellow students rushed around, sorting the dropped-off bags and bins. Much more will be needed. Go to purchase.thankyou4caring.org to find out more.

Although Sunday’s fire was no doubt traumatic for many, and could serve as a serious setback for some, the Purchase College community was ultimately lucky. It may be time to revisit ways to get fire suppression sprinklers in New York colleges’ old dorms, too, to ensure future happy endings.


Remembering the Deutsche Bank Fire

In the August issue of Fire Protection Contractor Magazine, MCA Executive Vice President Tony Saporito reflects on the tragic events surrounding the Deutsche Bank Fire ten years ago and the landmark changes made to New York City codes with respect to building construction, demolition, and abatement procedures.


NYFSC to Honor John Bower Through Burn Center Foundation Donations

2017 marks our 18th year supporting the mission and amazing work of the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation. This year your contribution will also celebrate the life and honor the memory of

John C. Bower.

John passed away in May of this year after a valiant battle with cancer.  He took pleasure in his work in fire protection and was Executive Vice President of ABCO Peerless Sprinkler Corp. He was charitable with his time and expertise in his profession, serving as the Co-Chair of the 2008 and 2014 NYC Model Code Project Fire Protection Technical Committee and Chairman of the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of NY’s New York Fire Sprinkler Council. He also served as President of the NYC Fire Museum, and was a member of the Museum Board of Trustees for over 20 years. John was also proud to be an FDNY Honorary Battalion Chief, sworn in in 2001. Having spent his entire career in the Fire Sprinkler Industry, his work directly impacted the safety and welfare of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States.


John was a sincere believer in the mission of the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.  The Foundation was created when several firefighters recognized a need for a nationally renowned burn center in the New York Metropolitan area. The firefighter community responded and created the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation in 1975. The goal of the Foundation is to make quality burn care available to all who are seriously burned regardless of age, race, creed or economic status. Last year, the Burn Center treated over 4,000 patients. Our industry’s donations have helped to fund pediatric burn care, specialized equipment, training for the New York Presbyterian Hospital burn team, the skin bank and sending children to burn camp. With your help, we have made a tremendous impact in improving the lives and care of burn victims.

Upon conclusion of our fundraising efforts, our collective donations will be presented to the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.

Please make your check payable to:

New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation

c/o MCA of New York, Inc., 44 West 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10001

You can also donate online at www.gofundme.com/nyfsc2017

We would greatly appreciate receiving your contribution by November 10, 2017. Should you have any questions, please call our Association office or contact Melissa Barbour by email at melissa@nymca.org.  Thank you for making a difference!


FDNY C of F News

FDNYPlease be advised that the New York City Fire Department is in the process of revising certain Certificate of Fitness Exams. A new study guide is available for the S-12, Supervision of Citywide Sprinkler Systems. The FDNY has also created an S-15 exam. This exam combines the S-12 certificate of fitness for citywide sprinkler systems and the newly created T-15 exam for foam sprinkler systems. All individuals performing inspections on foam sprinkler systems, must now hold a certificate of fitness to do so. Existing certificate of fitness holders with an S-12 can upgrade their certification from the S-12 to an S-15 by taking the T-15 exam.

Download the Study Materials PDF for the study guide for these exams.


Filing Combination Systems DOB Now

DOB NYCThe DOB NOW Build launch on July 25th will only include sprinkler and plumbing filings, therefore the Department of Buildings offers the following information for the filing of combined systems:

For combined systems, the plumbing and/or sprinkler work type may be filed in DOB NOW and the associated standpipe work type could be filed in BIS. You should note in the comment section on the PW1 (Section 24) that you are filing a plumbing or sprinkler work type as part of DOB NOW. In addition, if you first file in eFiling or in the borough office, you can connect your job in DOB NOW to a recently filed job by entering the associated job number(s) in Section 8 (Additional Information) of the PW1 section in DOB NOW. You can enter up to five job numbers in this section. You may use the same set of plans in DOB NOW that you submit in eFiling or in the borough office. You will need to complete a PW3 for work that is filed in eFiling or in a borough office and a separate PW3 for the plumbing or sprinkler work that is filed in DOB NOW.

The Buildings Department is working to deploy standpipe applications next in DOB NOW. A launch date will be announced shortly.  They are tentatively targeting early fall this year.


New Checklist for Bidding Work Under UA Residential Agreements – 4/8/2016

New Checklists for Bidding Work Under UA Residential Agreements – (4/8/2016)

1. Familiarize yourself with BOTH Residential Agreements (Attachment #1 & Attachment #2)

2. Contact Local 638 Business Agent assigned to project’s area to confirm details (Attachment #3)

3. Complete entire UA Residential Intent to Use form (Attachment #4)

4. Access NYC Dept. of Buildings’ website (www.nyc.gov/bis) to verify information and provide zoning diagram (Attachment #5)

5. Submit UA Intent to Use form and DOB Zoning Diagram at least 5 days prior to bid to the following individuals:

6. CONFIRM approval by Local 638 and submit any Target Fund Requests directly to Local 638.

7. If project is won, submit “Letter of Award” to the above emails.

Please contact the MCA of New York with any questions regarding the Residential Agreements. You can access a printable version of the check list HERE. Failure to follow the above steps can delay approval for your projects.


New York Fire Sprinkler Council Raises Funds for Burn Victims

The Mechanical Contractors Association of New York (MCA) announced it has raised $34,000 for the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation, which provides crucial support for research, education, and prevention, as well as medical care for burn victims.

NYFSC Raises Funds

At its November membership meeting, MCA President Michael Russo, Board member Timothy Bowe, and Steamfitting Industry Promotion Fund Chairman James Botto presented a check to the Foundation on behalf of MCA’s New York Fire Sprinkler Council, which was recently created to further spread awareness of the importance of fire suppression systems in saving lives and protecting property. “The work of the Foundation has significantly improved the lives of bum survivors and we are honored to support their efforts,” said Bowe.

“When you find an organization like the Burn Center Foundation that does such incredible work and is so closely aligned with our industry’s mission„ they become the obvious choice for our Association to give back to,” added Russo.

Fire sprinkler contractors have been raising funds for the Foundation since 2000, and total industry contributions have now reached more than $667,000. The MCA’s Steamfitting Industry Promotion Fund alone has contributed $147,500 over the past 16 years, in addition to annual donations by individual MCA members and suppliers.

The Burn Center Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the advancement of quality burn care, research, prevention, and education. The primary beneficiary of the Foundation is the New YorkPresbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center’s William Randolph Hearst Burn Center, the largest and busiest center of burn care in the nation.

During the MCA meeting, New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation Board members, firefighter Ralph Longo, and firefighter Andrew Marrotta gave a presentation about the outstanding work performed by both the Foundation and the staff of the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center. Following the presentation, nearly $5,000 additional funds were pledged by industry members in attendance.

Foundation Executive Director Gwen Curran, Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery and Director of the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center Dr. James Gallagher, MD, FACS, Burn Center Patient Care Director Jamie Heifernan, and Research Nurse Angela Rabbit were also on hand to accept the donation.

The New York Fire Sprinkler Council (NYFSC) is a newly created division of the MCA that is dedicated to educating communities and public officials of the vital role of fire sprinklers in protecting lives and property. Its mission is to increase awareness about the lifesaving benefits of fire sprinklers and provide advice to public agencies on technical matters related to the installation, inspection, testing, and maintenance of these The MCA is an organization of the union Mechanical and Fire Sprinkler Contracting industry in New York City and Long Island.

The MCA is designed to promote the welfare and development of the heating, piping, air conditioning, and fire suppression industry. Since 1885, the MCA has provided a place for contractors to come together and assist each other in identifying emerging technologies, addressing labor issues effectively, and improving business practices.


Parents, Students Must Call for College Dorms to Have Fire Sprinklers

January is a time when high school seniors begin to apply for college. As parents consider their options, their children’s safety is of the highest priority. Regional colleges and universities prioritizing the fire safety of New York’s 1.2 million college students and faculty should be commended.

Water Based Fire Sprinkler Head

Fordham, New York University, Columbia, Cornell and St. John’s are among the higher education institutions that have taken proactive steps to protect student-residents by installing fire sprinkler systems in new and existing dormitories. This is so important because, according to Campus Firewatch, there are approximately 3,810 campus housing fires across the U.S. each year.

Perhaps the most significant effort increasing fire safety awareness in the Empire State is the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act. The 2013 law, enacted after a fatal 2012 Marist College fire where three students died, requires New York public and private colleges to at least inform students and their families whether college-owned and operated housing is protected with sprinklers.

Likewise in 2000, a Seton Hall University dormitory fire in South Orange, N.J., killed three and injured 58 more students. That year New Jersey became the first state to pass legislation requiring both on- and off-campus school residence halls to be retrofitted with fire sprinklers. The state has not recorded any campus fire fatalities since.

Wyoming, Delaware, Illinois and Wisconsin have all joined New Jersey in requiring sprinklers in all new and existing college dormitories.

The majority of campus housing fires in the U.S. (88 percent) begin in the kitchen as young adults experiment with cooking, often for the first time. Statistics also show that U.S. college students are more prone to overload electrical sockets, burn candles and experiment with smoking. These are among the reasons why over 3,780 fires were ignited in dormitories, Greek housing and student barracks in 2011, up from 2,490 in 1983, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Although increased college attendance may contribute to those figures, a 52 percent jump in fires is a problem that cannot go unaddressed.

What’s more, it’s simply inexcusable that campus-related fires have taken 170 innocent young lives since 2000.

According to the NFPA, the risk of dying in a fire is cut by about one-third when working smoke alarms are present. When a water-based fire sprinkler system is installed in an apartment building or dorm, the rate of death is 83 percent lower and average property loss is reduced by 70 percent.

As the number of college fires rise, the installation of sprinkler systems is more important than ever. Due to increased use of petroleum-based compounds and synthetics in modern furnishings, today’s fires are more toxic, burn hotter and 800 percent faster than even those 30 years ago.

Fire suppression technology can now react within just seconds of recognizing changes in atmosphere and temperature. Without sprinkler protection, trapped victims may have as little as three minutes to escape before the fire accelerates to a flashover state, reaching and exceeding temperatures of 2,000°F in mere minutes. A well designed, installed, tested, inspected and maintained sprinkler system will last for many decades, so it’s a long term investment in protecting both lives and property.

It’s time that fire sprinklers are required in each and every one of New York’s 248 higher education institutions. Protecting the lives and property of our student population should be a first priority. If your child is a college student living without sprinklers, urge his or her institution to consider fire sprinkler protection. Let us also call on our legislators to take the lead in requiring fire sprinkler protection in all student population housing. Waiting to take action only guarantees another tragedy.

Tony Saporito is the Executive Vice President of the Mechanical Contractors Association of New York.

STORY SOURCE: http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/article/parents_students_must_call_for_college_dorms_to_have_fire_sprinklers


MCA and Plumbing Foundation Join Forces to Promote Safe Construction

Tony Saporito of the MCA of New York, Inc and Stewart O’Brien of the Plumbing Foundation of NY have co-authored a piece entitled A Dangerous Lower Standard for the Commercial Observer detailing the associations’ efforts on behalf of licensed construction in the Fire Suppression and Plumbing industries.

Architectural Plans Modular Construction

Recent code interpretations by the NYC Dept. of Buildings have allowed owners to circumvent the licensing requirement when building modular construction. Innovation that promotes efficiency is always welcomed in the construction industry, but it should not come at the expense of safety.

Would you want your children and family to occupy a building whose critical life safety systems were put in place by an untrained, unlicensed worker? Or what if the hospital or nursing home your loved one was a patient in had a fire?

The NYC Building Code requires that plumbing work, including connections to domestic water supply, gas piping, medical lines, and back-flow devices in medical facilities, be performed by a licensed firm.  Similarly the Building Code also requires that fire suppression systems that automatically detect and then control, suppress, or extinguish fires, helping prevent fatal accidents, only be installed by licensed fire suppression contractors. The obvious reason is safety.

Licensed master plumbers and mechanical contracting firms are trained and qualified to ensure the city’s gas and steam piping are properly welded, so that the public is protected from leaks that lead to explosions. Does it make any sense to have two regulatory systems—one that requires certain buildings to be constructed using licensed firms and other buildings that can be constructed using unlicensed people?

Read the full article A Dangerous Lower Standard.


MCA and Local 638 Sign Residential Agreements

We are pleased to announce that Local 638 and MCA have signed two new Supplements to the United Association National Agreement for Residential Construction. One covers up to 12 Stories and 200,000 square feet and one covers up to 30 stories residential and up to 40 stories hospitality and 300,000 square feet.

30 Stories Residential Agreement

Local 638 will utilize and administer use of their Target Fund for the up to 30 stories and Hospitality up to 40 stories supplement, and contractors should contact Local 638 to inquire about the Target Fund procedure. All contractors must submit the “Notice of Intent to Use Local Union 638 Addendum to the United Association Residential Agreement” Form, for all work bid under these supplements. Additionally, contractors should contact the Steamfitters Industry Fund Office to discuss the proper remittance form for work under the supplements.

These supplements will assist our industry in an effort to recapture and increase market share in the Residential Market that has been lost to non-union forces.

We believe that an aggressive approach towards bidding the work that the supplements cover will yield great benefits for signatory contractors and Local 638. We encourage you to bid those projects and make every effort to win back this market.



We are proud to announce the 2014-2017 TRADE AGREEMENT Between ENTERPRISE ASSOCIATION LOCAL UNION 638. Steam, Hot Water, Hydraulic, Sprinkler, Pneumatic Tube, Ice Machine and General Pipe Fitters of New York and Vicinity, Local Union No. 638 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada and MECHANICAL CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK, INC. Effective July 1, 2014 Terminates June 30, 2017.

Trade Agreement Shaking Hands

The Association and Employers hereby recognize Steamfitters’ Local Union 638 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada as the sole and exclusive bargaining representative for all their employees performing any work covered by this Agreement and employed by the employer in the geographical jurisdiction of the Enterprise Association, namely, the City of New York, Nassau and Suffolk counties and all of Long Island. This Agreement together with its Working Rules shall govern all steamfitting work performed under this Agreement by any contractor party to or bound by and subject to this Agreement within the trade jurisdiction as set forth herein.

Download the 2014-2017 TRADE AGREEMENT