Relates to providing firefighters with appropriate equipment and procedures.
BILL NUMBER:S2600 REVISED 03/03/11
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the labor law, in relation to requiring employers to provide safety ropes and system components to firefighters; and to repeal paragraph e of subdivision 1 of section 27-a of the labor law relating to the definition of system components
PURPOSE: This Bill would require employers who employ firefighters to develop a written risk assessment to determine the equipment and procedures necessary for firefighters when engaged in fire suppression activities at above grade floors during structure fires.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the Bill repeals the definition of "system components" found in paragraph e of subdivision 1 of section 27-a of the Labor Law.
Section 2 of the Bill amends subdivision 4 of section 27-a of the Labor Law to require employers, who employ firefighters to develop a written risk assessment to determine the equipment and procedures necessary for firefighters to use when engaged in fire suppression activities at above grade floors during structure fires.
Section 3 of the bill is the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: On January 23, 2005, six (6) New York City Firefighters were caught on the fourth floor of a burning building in the Bronx. The firefighters, however, were not equipped with safety ropes and accompanying equipment. All six (6) men were forced to jump from the building, resulting in serious injury to four (4) and the death of two (2). This incident has become commonly referred to as "Black Sunday" in the firefighting community. In response to the Black Sunday incident, the Legislature eventually enacted Chapter 433 of the Laws of 2008 ("Chapter 433"), which required, among other things, that the commissioner of the Department of Labor (the "Commissioner") to promulgate regulations to adopt the codes, standards, and recommended practices promulgated by the "most recent" edition (i.e., the 2006 edition) of National Fire Protection Association ("NFPA") 1983 Standard on Fire Service Life Safety Rope And System Components. NFPA standards, however, are continually changing in order to maintain pace with advancements in technology. By restricting the Commissioner to the 2006 edition of the NFPA 1983 Standard, Chapter 433 has, in effect, hampered the Commissioner's ability to effectively respond to changes in technology, which could have the unintended effect of putting firefighters' lives at risk. In addition, firefighters carry certain standard equipment, which may be used during a self rescue I escape, that may not be Covered by the NFPA 1983 Standard. For example, it is an accepted practice for a firefighter to carry a Halligan bar (also called a Halligan tool) into a building. To be sure, in most fire companies, firefighters do not enter a building
without one. One of the many accepted uses for the Halligan Bar is for a firefighter to use it during a self rescue I escape - i.e., the exact situation covered by Chapter 433. It is an accepted practice (and one that is taught during training) for a firefighter who faces a self rescue/escape situation to jam or wedge his Halligan bar into a wall or a corner as an anchor point, tie off his rope to it and proceed to extract himself out a window. The problem, however, is that a Halligan bar is currently not covered by the NFPA 1983. In effect what Chapter 433 has inadvertently done is to prevent the firefighting community to use equipment generally recognized as acceptable because it is not covered by the NFPA 1983 Standard On Fire Service Life Safety Rope And System Components. This Bill will provide the firefighting community with the latitude to effectively respond to the needs of their locality, to consider appropriate alternatives and to provide communities with the flexibility to equip their firefighters with equipment that best suits their unique needs.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 01/26/11 referred to labor
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Minimal.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2600 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 26, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. GRISANTI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Labor AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to requiring employers to provide safety ropes and system components to firefighters; and to repeal paragraph e of subdivision 1 of section 27-a of the labor law relating to the definition of system components THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraph e of subdivision 1 of section 27-a of the labor law is REPEALED. S 2. Subdivision 4 of section 27-a of the labor law, as amended by chapter 433 of the laws of 2007, is amended to read as follows: 4. Safety and health standards. a. The commissioner shall by rule adopt all safety and health standards promulgated under the United States Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Public Law, 91-596) which are in effect on the effective date of this section, in order to provide reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, safety and health of public employees and shall promulgate and repeal such rules and regulations as may be necessary to conform to the standards estab- lished pursuant to such act or pursuant to paragraph b of this subdivi- sion. b. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph a of this subdivision, the commissioner, in consultation with the state occupational safety and health hazard abatement board, shall promulgate rules and regulations recommended to him OR HER by such board which establish standards when- ever such board finds (i) that no federal standard exists for the particular condition being addressed and that such a standard is neces- sary for the protection of the public employees at risk, or (ii) a federal standard exists, but conditions in public workplaces in this state require a different standard, and such state standard will be atEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD07655-01-1 S. 2600 2
least as effective in providing safe and healthful places of employment as the federal standard. c. Except for an employer located in a city with a population of over one million, any employer who employs a firefighter shall
[provide safe- ty ropes and system components for use by such firefighter]DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A WRITTEN SAFETY PROGRAM THAT INCLUDES BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING: (1) A WRITTEN RISK ASSESSMENT TO DETERMINE THE PRESENCE OF FACTORS OR SITUATIONS IN FIRE SUPPRESSION THAT MIGHT PLACE FIREFIGHT- ERS AT RISK OF INJURY OR DEATH, (2) THE EQUIPMENT AND PROCEDURES NECES- SARY FOR FIREFIGHTERS TO USE WHEN ENGAGED IN FIRE SUPPRESSION AT ABOVE GRADE FLOORS DURING A STRUCTURE FIRE INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, EQUIPMENT AND PROCEDURES FOR RAPID SAFE EGRESS. D. The commissioner shall [by rule adopt the codes, standards and recommended practices promulgated by the most recent edition of National Fire Protection Association 1983, Standard on Fire Service Life Safety Rope and System Components, and]PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS as are appropriate [to]FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF WRIT- TEN SAFETY PROGRAMS, WHICH SHALL INCLUDE, WITHOUT LIMITATION, AN EVALU- ATION OF the nature of the risk to which the firefighter shall be exposed. Such [safety ropes and system components]EQUIPMENT AND PROCE- DURES shall be, IN THE DETERMINATION OF THE EMPLOYER, adequate to protect the health and safety of the firefighter. E. The employer shall ensure that the firefighter is instructed in the proper use of the [safety ropes and system components]EQUIPMENT AND PROCEDURES AT THE TIME OF THEIR INITIAL ASSIGNMENT AND ANNUALLY THERE- AFTER. THE EMPLOYER SHALL ALSO ENSURE THAT: (1) A FIREFIGHTER SHALL BE INFORMED OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION, THE RISKS OF FIRE SUPPRESSION AND THE LOCATION AND AVAILABILITY OF THE WRITTEN SAFETY PROGRAM UPON REQUEST, BY THE EMPLOYER OR THEIR DESIGNATED REPRESEN- TATIVES; AND (2) FIREFIGHTER TRAINING SHALL INCLUDE AT LEAST THE DETAILS OF THE WRITTEN SAFETY PROGRAM DEVELOPED BY THE EMPLOYER. F. In order to ensure the adequacy of the [safety ropes and system components]EQUIPMENT AND PROCEDURES, the employer must routinely inspect and ensure that: (1) Existing [safety ropes and system components]EQUIPMENT AND PROCE- DURES meet the codes, standards and recommended practices adopted by the commissioner. (2) Existing [safety ropes and system components]EQUIPMENT AND PROCE- DURES still perform their function and to identify any of their limita- tions such as but not limited to: (i) Checking the labels or stamps on the equipment; and (ii) Checking any documentation or equipment specifications; and (iii) Contacting the supplier or the [approval agency]MANUFACTURER; (3) Firefighters are informed of the limitations of any [safety ropes and system components]EQUIPMENT AND PROCEDURES; (4) Firefighters are not allowed or required to use any [safety ropes or system components]EQUIPMENT beyond their limitations; (5) Existing and new [safety ropes and system components]EQUIPMENT have no visible defects that limit their safe use; (6) [Safety ropes and system components are]ANY EQUIPMENT IS used, cleaned, maintained and stored according to manufacturer's instructions; (7) The firefighter is instructed in identifying to the employer any defects that the firefighter may find in [safety ropes and system compo- nents]ANY EQUIPMENT; and (8) Any identified defects are corrected or immediate action is taken by the employer to eliminate the use of this equipment.S. 2600 3
[d.]G. Any person who may be adversely affected by a standard issued under this section may, within thirty days after the effective date of such standard, commence a proceeding for judicial review pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules. S 3. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law except that the commissioner of labor shall promulgate regulations required under this act within one hundred twenty days of its effective date.