Landlord Fined $3,600 for Failure to Conduct Sprinkler Flow Tests
LVT Number: #32160
The Fire Dept. issued violation notices to landlord for failure to conduct residential sprinkler flow tests in six adjoining buildings. At a hearing, landlord argued that tests couldn't be performed because none of the buildings' sprinkler systems had an inspector’s test valve. The requirement for an inspector’s test valve was enacted in 1999. However, because none of the cited buildings had had major alterations since the 1970s, the lack of an inspector’s test valve was “grandfathered.” Up until 2018, residential sprinkler flow tests were performed at the buildings without inspector’s test valves. In 2018, the FDNY determined that it was unsafe to conduct the tests without inspector’s test valves. Landlord claimed that FDNY’s issuance of the violations only months later smacked of bad faith, since landlord couldn't have installed the inspector’s test valves necessary to conduct the flow tests in such a short time. The ALJ ruled against landlord and imposed a $600 for each violation, totalling $3,600.
Landlord appealed and lost. FDNY said that an inspector’s test valve was required under the 1938 Building Code (BC), 1968 BC, 2004 BC, and 2014 BC. ECB found that landlord failed to establish a defense of “grandfathering” since the 1938 BC, 1968 BC, 2008 BC, and 2014 BC contain requirements for an inspector’s test valve. ECB said that it has no authority to review FDNY's enforcement practices, and that landlord offered insufficient evidence to show that it was impossible to install inspector’s test valves prior to the date of violation.
FDNY v. Diego Beekman Mutual Hsg. Assoc.: ECB App. No. 2200471 (5/26/22)[5-pg.doc.]