Sustainable CUNY's Solar Ombudsmen have worked with FDNY to develop Fire Code flexibility for small, flat-roof buildings less than 25 feet wide, such as brownstones. For those of you who attended our Solar Road Map stakeholder meetings in March, this is one of the forthcoming changes that was discussed.
The full rule clarification is detailed in the NYC Fire Code Guide
. This guide replaces the old FAQs that FDNY posted on its website, and all of those questions and answers are now included in this guide. The specifics are included in Question #38 under FC CHAPTER 5 - FIRE OPERATION FEATURES (page 32 of the PDF).
In summary, the new rule clarification will allow certain permanent building features to encroach upon the clear path required by FC504.4 to a limited extent in specific circumstances. As a result, projects that meet these requirements in these circumstances will not have to file for a fire code variance in order to be approved by DOB. Note that DOB's requirements for PTA projects filing with professional certification remain the same, and so projects affected by this new FDNY rule clarification will continue to be required to file via Hub Full Service.
FDNY requires solar systems to be installed in a specific way to ensure proper rooftop access. The requirements are set forth in Chapter 5 of the Fire Code, Sections 504 & 512
. In summary:
- Sloped roofs: One or two family buildings with a roof slope of 9.5 degrees or greater must provide a clear path of 3 feet along both sides of any ridgeline.
- Flat roofs: Buildings under 100 feet tall with “flat roofs,” defined as a roof slope under 9.5 must provide:
- A clear path that is 6 feet wide and 9 feet tall, from front to back and side to side;
- A clear path landing zone of 6 feet by 6 feet every 12 feet of frontage space (street facing side of the roof);
- An access 3 feet wide must be provided around scuttles, skylights, fire escapes, and ladders.
- A clear radius 6 feet wide is required around roof doors; and
- Fences in the clear path are allowed but must provide a gate.
- There are also requirements on conduit runs and labeling
For an explanation of the Fire Code and variance requests, see both the Technology Management Bulletin rev. 2013 as well as FDNY’s Fire Code.
It is possible to modify certain Fire Code requirements for specific projects. For example, the 6 foot clear path requirement on ‘flat roofs’ may be reduced to 3 feet in some circumstances. (Note: Exceptions to the 3 foot clear path from the ridge on ‘sloped roofs’ are unlikely.) If you would like your project to be considered for an exception to the Fire Code, you must apply for a rooftop access variance by filing a TM-5 application.