FSD/EAP Director Overview

The Role of the Fire Safety Director and Emergency Action Plan Director in

New York City High-Rise Buildings

Overview

I. Fire Safety Director History

In 1973, New York City introduced a Local Law on Fire Safety in High-Rise Business (Group-B Occupancy) Buildings to mitigate fire emergencies in these structures.  Local Law 5 mandated that these buildings are required to have a certified Fire Safety Director (FSD) on duty for the premises. The FSD is responsible for the life safety of the occupants within the buildings as well as fire protection systems.  In the 1980’s, a FSD also became a requirement in (Group-R1 Occupancy) hotel/motel high-rise buildings and/or in a building that is equipped with a fire alarm system which features a two-way voice communication system.

a. Fire Safety Director Qualification Criteria

The FSD Qualification Criteria is a three step process:

1) The FSD candidate is required to attend a 20-hour FSD training course at a school approved by the fire department and passes their examination;

2) Pass a fire department computerized 100-question examination that is administered at Fire Headquarters; and

3) Pass a building on-site examination administered by the fire department as to the site specific fire protection systems and life safety features. Upon passing all three phases, the FSD candidate is awarded a Certificate of Fitness license that is satisfactory for a three year period.

b. FSD Responsibilities

The FSD is hired by the owner of the building to make sure that all fire safety regulations are in compliance and to implement the fire safety plan.  An FSD is required to be on-duty when the building has occupancy of 100 persons above and below grade or 500 persons in the entire building.

The main FSD responsibilities are to operate the fire alarm system panel (FAS) at the lobby Fire Command Center (FCC), make voice announcements during a fire emergency to the building occupants, and liaison with the fire department upon their arrival.  From the FCC, fire safety director controls and supervises the floor evacuations in the immediate threat area according to the approved building fire safety plan.

During an emergency, the FSD must remain composed and in control of the situation. The FSD will issue emergency instructions to building occupants in a clear and concise manner. Prior to the arrival of the fire department, the FSD’s composure has a major influence on the behavior of the building occupants.

The FSD also develops fire safety training programs for the floor warden teams, fire brigade and building occupants. The FSD maintains recordkeeping of the building fire protection systems, fire inspections as well as conducting and supervising fire drills.

When the FSD is absent, a Deputy FSD assumes his/her role.   At all other times, when the building has less than 100 persons above or below the ground floor, a building evacuation supervisor (BES) must be on duty. The BES is trained by the FSD and requires no fire department certification.

II. Emergency Action Plan History

Following the events of September 11, 2001, New York City (NYC) needed to implement new all-hazard emergency evacuation plans for high rise-office buildings. In 2002, the Fire Safety Directors Association (FSDA) testified before the City Council and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to enhance life safety needs within high-rise buildings. The Association supported the creation of the NIST “The National Construction Safety Team Act” to investigate major building collapses and structural fire incidents, and secured from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) a commitment to create a High-Rise Building Safety Advisory Committee.

The Association formed the first NYC Task Force to develop a High-Rise Office Building Evacuation Plan for emergencies other than fire.  Upon completing their tasks for these all-hazard emergencies, the FSDA Task Force joined forces with the NYC Fire Department, Bureau of Fire Prevention.   Based on this joint venture, a formalized Emergency Action Plan (EAP) was developed.  The EAP Plan and other associated requirements to implement were included in the adoption of Local Law-26 (LL-26) in 2004. The High-Rise Office Building Emergency Action Plan specifically addresses and mitigates emergencies other than fires. LL-5, however, remains active for fire emergencies.  LL-26 enhances both building and fire codes so as to increase the likelihood that all occupants will evacuate safely during non-fire emergencies by man-made disasters such as an explosion, biological, chemical or hazardous material incidents or releases, and natural disasters such as a hurricane, tornado, etc. or other perceived threats.

a. Emergency Action Plan Director Qualification Criteria

The EAP Director Qualification Criteria is a four step process:

1) The EAP candidate must possess a FSD certificate of fitness for the specific building;

2) The EAP candidate is required to attend an 8-hour EAP training course at a school approved by the fire department and passes their examination;

3) Pass a fire department computerized 100-question examination that is administered at Fire Headquarters; and

4) Pass a building on-site examination administered by the fire department as to the site specific all-hazard emergencies affecting the building. Upon passing the latter three requirements, the EAP candidate is awarded a Certificate of Fitness license that is satisfactory for a three year period.

b. EAP Director Responsibilities

LL-26 requires the designated EAP Director to be responsible for the implementation of the building Emergency Action Plan.  The EAP Director is hired by the owner of the building to make sure that the all-hazard emergency regulations are in compliance.  An EAP Director is required to be on-duty when the building has occupancy of 100 persons above and below grade or 500 persons in the entire building.

One of the main responsibilities of the EAP Director is to initiate the operation of the building fire alarm voice communication system at the lobby Fire Command Center (FCC), when apprised of an all-hazard emergency whether the all-hazard threat is internal or external to the building.  The EAP Director controls and supervises the actions and/or evacuations in the immediate threat area according to the approved EAP plan and is a liaison to the first responders upon their arrival.

During an emergency the EAP Director must remain composed and in control of the situation. The EAP Director will issue emergency instructions to building occupants in a clear, concise and timely manner.  Prior to the arrival of the first responders, the EAP Director’s composure has a major influence on the behavior of the building occupants.

The EAP Director also develops all-hazard training programs for the floor warden teams, emergency response brigade, building occupants and coordinates efforts with neighboring buildings. The EAP Director must also maintain all EAP related documents, as well as conducting and supervising EAP drills.

When the EAP Director is absent, a Deputy EAP Director assumes his/her role.  At all other times, when the building has less than 100 persons above or below the ground floor, a building evacuation supervisor (BES) must be on duty. The BES is trained by the EAP Director and requires no fire department certification.