buildingsunit.jpgA memo from FDNY Operations Chief Patrick McNally is instructing firefighters to conduct inspections of buildings under construction or demolition on two different timetables, depending on their height. City rules have long mandated that all buildings going up or coming down had to be inspected by the fire department every 15 days. McNally's memo now instructs firefighters to inspect buildings over 75 feet tall every 15 days, and below 75 feet tall every 30 days.

The department insists that is a concession to reality that the department is already overburdened with mandatory annual inspections of every school and hospital in the city, the real estate boom has multiplied the number of buildings being demolished and built, and the primary responsibility of FDNY members is to be available to fight actual fires.

Inspection rules came under scrutiny in the wake of the Deutsche Bank building fire that killed two firefighters in August. Investigators found that the demolition job had not been inspected by the FDNY for months, and that a standpipe that should have provided water on the scene was disconnected, ultimately putting the firefighters at additional risk. In September, a number of high-ranking FDNY officials in the field complained to The New York Times that twice-monthly inspections of buildings was simply not feasible.

FDNY Buildings Unit, by Triborough at flickr