Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed S7677 sponsored by Senators Grisanti, Martins and Zelden into law which now sheds more light on the requirement of employers to provide emergency escape systems to firefighters under certain circumstances outlined in New York’s Labor Law and ensuing regulations to be promulgated by the Labor Department.
This legislation was supported by FASNY, the State Chiefs and Fire Districts Associations and sought to revise legislation passed in 2007 that required employers, which included Fire Districts, Village Fire Companies and Independent Fire Companies to provide safety ropes and system components to all of their firefighters.
Although the legislation was subject to interpretation, the common understanding was, it required safety ropes as approved by NFPA without deviation and that they were to be issued to all interior firefighters regardless of the building geography of the particular coverage area involved. The law required a written assessment by the Department that included a plan for purchasing the ropes, training and ultimate issuance of the equipment.
Chapter 360 requires the employer to identify firefighters who are determined to be at risk for above ground entrapment. Those firefighters are to be provided with Emergency Escape Systems which include but are not limited to safety ropes and system components. Identification of at risk firefighters and the approval method for suitable Emergency Escape Systems as defined in the law will be the subject of Regulations to be promulgated by the Department of Labor.
The Commissioner of Labor is directed by the legislation to identify appropriate recommended standards such as NFPA and any other standards approved by the Commissioner. This would allow the commissioner to develop other standards that will further refine and guide the employer in establishing what firefighters are exposed to risk and the extent of the risk to above ground hazard. Finally, the regulations would also determine appropriate escape systems and allow for Labor Department approval of such systems.
FASNY expects that the regulatory process will be lengthy and allow for ample comment as required by the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA). The SAPA process will provide for the publishing of a draft of the regulation followed by an open comment period. This process could include changes and republishing depending on comments received from interested parties and impacted stakeholders. FASNY will monitor the process and continue report to the membership on this issue.