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Ask an Expert: Should my walk-up have a fire escape?

By Teri Karush Rogers | January 3, 2012 - 11:32AM

Q.  I live near the top of a walk-up on the Lower East Side in a building without a fire escape. Also, my building has a single stairwell. Are buildings like mine required to have a fire escape? What's the rule?

A.  Unfortunately, the answer is not as straightforward as you might wish, according to our experts.

"It's a Multiple Dwelling Law issue, a fire department issue and a Department of Buildings issue," says Paul Grissett, an expediting manager at RAND Engineering and Architecture PC.

"Like all things, it depends on the parameters," says Grissett. Factors include the height of the building, the number of dwellings, maximum travel distance on any floor, presence or absence of automatic sprinklers, and the number of exits from means of egress such as an interior stairwell.

If you suspect your building is not in compliance, call 311 to make an anonymous complaint and the city will send an inspector to take a look.


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