2013-11-22 / Top Stories

Flood Maps Guide Building Bills

On Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg signed into law several bills aimed at strengthening the City’s Building Code and Zoning Resolution. The bills seek to ensure that future construction meets the highest level of resilience. Included was a piece of legislation sponsored by Council Member Eric Ulrich (Intro. 990-A) which requires using the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMS, as the baseline standard going forward. FIRMS are the official flood maps on which FEMA has delineated areas of special flood hazard, base flood elevations, and the flood boundary and floodways.

Councilman Ulrich said, “Until now, many property owners in flood zones were unsure about how they should rebuild. By adopting these maps, we will allow homeowners and residents affected by Hurricane Sandy the opportunity to rebuild their communities stronger and more storm resilient.”

As he signed the bills Bloomberg said, “The bills before me today are a product of the Building Resiliency Task Force, an expert panel convened after Hurricane Sandy to outline steps to fortify New York City’s buildings and strengthen building standards. Their report includes 33 recommendations that address resiliency in a wide range of buildings – including commercial buildings, multi-family residences, hospitals and one to three family homes – and offer options to help existing buildings become more resilient and strengthen the City’s Building Code and Zoning Resolution to ensure future construction meets the highest level of resilience.”

The bills were as follows:

Introductory Number 983-A: This legislation sets out building and materials requirements for hospitals and health care facilities located in designated flood zones. Patient care areas and all spaces intended to be used by persons for sleeping purposes are to be located at or above the design flood elevation.

Introductory Number 1085-A: This legislation requires the owners of a residential dwelling, where at least one unit is not occupied by the owner, to post a notice in the building detailing information such as whether the building is located in a hurricane evacuation zone, address of nearest evacuation center, when a person should contact 911 and 311, and contact information of the building personnel.

Introductory Number 1089-A: This legislation requires that building systems, such as fuel storage, extinguishing systems, and cables be elevated above the minimum flood levels outlined in the Building Code in designated flood prone areas. Fuel oil stored on the lowest story having its floor above the design flood elevation is limited to 3,000 gallons, and no storage tank may exceed the lesser of 1,500 gallons or the quantity of fuel-oil needed to operate the emergency or standby generators served by the tank for 24 hours.

Introductory 1096-A: This legislation addresses relocating and protecting building systems in floodprone areas; sets guidelines for fire protection and alarm systems, fuel oil piping systems, and plumbing systems and components; and construction and elevation standards for fuel oil, hazardous materials and gas and oxygen storage tanks.

Introductory 1099-A: This legislation defines the different wind speeds and at what heights exterior building fixtures such as louvers, outdoor furniture and construction equipment need to be secured or moved inside; and sets standards for glass and building facades to withstand wind borne debris.

Bloomberg concluded the signing by thanking the City Council “for approving this legislation.”

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