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NEW YORK, APRIL 19, 1913
FIRE-ESCAPES FOR ALL APARTMENT HOUSES
Or Two Separate Means of
Egress in Buildings Here¬
after Erected, Whether
Fireproof or Otherwise,
BY a bill which has been introduced
in the Legislature with the approval
of the Tenement House Department,
duplicate means of egress will be re¬
quired in all classes of tenement houses
erected in the future. This means that
fireproof apartment houses of the most
costly description, as well as the modest
non-fireproof tenement, must have either
an exterior fire-escape or something that
will perform the duty of an emergency
exit, in addition to the main stairway.
Commissioner Murphy states that this
amendment is largely the result of a
symposium that was carried on in The
Record and Guide on the question of the
expediency of requiring fire-escapes of
some sort to be placed on fireproof
apartment houses. To the mind of the
Commissioner it seemed to be the con¬
sensus of opinion that there ought to be
in all buildings a double means of exit.
This, of course, relates only to new
buildings. One of the values of this
provision would be the added sense of
safety to tenants who are apt to be
panic-stricken in an emergency.
Will Facilitate Construction.
The bill (Senate No. 2170) has been
introduced also for the purpose of facil¬
itating the construction of new tene¬
ments in the Borough of The Bronx,
where difficulties caused by steep grades
are continually arising, and where cer¬
tain new forms of construction not now
permitted in the law have been desired.
After conferring with builders in The
Bronx the present bill was drafted.
The first amendment relates to the
construction of tenement houses at cor¬
ners where one street passes under an¬
other. This condition has been created
in The Bronx by the construction of the
Grand Concourse and Boulevard, and
was not provided for in the law as it
stands. The measurements for deter¬
mining the height of a house so situated
may be taken from the curb level of the
highest street. All tiers of beams below
the curb level of the highest street, as
well as the first tier of beams above the
curb level, must be iron or steel or re¬
inforced concrete with fireproof filling.
All inside stairs below this level must
be fireproof and enclosed by fireproof
walls, with fireproof self-closing doors
at top and bottom of each flight; and
such stairs shall not be situated under
More Than One Safety Exit,
The second amendment is the one pro¬
viding for two independent ways of
egress from all tenement houses here¬
after erected. They are to run from the
HON. JOHN J. MURPHY.
Commissioner of tbe Tenement House Depart¬
ground floor to the roof, they must be
remote from each other, and must be
separated by walls. One of these ways
of egress must be a flight of stairs con¬
structed and arranged as already pro¬
vided by law.
The other way shall be directly acces¬
sible at each story to each apartment
without having to pass through the first
way of egress. It may be (1) a system
of outside fire-escapes; or (2) an addi¬
tional flight of stairs, either inside or
outside, or (3) a fireproof tower.
Concrete Floors and Stair Halls.
The third amendment to the bill elim¬
inates permission for the use of flexible
wire fire-escapes on buildings hereafter
The fourth amendment permits the use
of concrete walls in stairs and public
The fifth amendment takes oflf the re¬
striction which Commissioner Murphy
has enforced, requiring the windows on
stair halls to be glazed glass and fire¬
proof glass with wire.
The sixth amendment relates to the
permission to construct the floors and
stair halls and the first tier of beams of
solid reinforced concrete as an alterna¬
tive to iron and steel beams with fire¬
Percentage of Lot Occupied.
The seventh amendment alters the re¬
striction on the percentage of lot which
may be legally occupied, in the case of
corner lots, and also in the case of in¬
terior lots exceeding 105 feet in depth.
The present limits are ninety per cent,
for a corner lot and seventy per cent,
for any other lot. Hereafter in the case
of (a) an interior lot between ninety and
one hundred and five feet in depth, not
more than_seventy per cent.; in the case
of (b) an interior lot which exceeds one
hundred and five feet in depth, not more
than sixty-five per cent
In the case of a gore-shaped lot, where
the width of the lot at the rear of the lot
lii.e is greater than the width at the
Required By a New Bill.
Concrete Construction in
Lieu of Steel and Wood
Beams on First Floor.
front, and the average width does not
exceed fifty feet, then the average width
through the center shall be taken for the
purposes of the aforesaid provision.
Whenever because of temporary dif¬
ferences in grade with abutting lots, at
the rear or side, it is necessary to pro¬
tect the adjoining premises by building
retaining walls; and whenever the de¬
partment is satisfied that permission
cannot be obtained to build such retain¬
ing walls on the abutting premises, the
department may permit the building of
retaining walls on the premises on which
the tenement house is to be erected,
without having such walls considered
as reducing the minimum size of yards
or courts required by the law, nor as
reducing the percentage of lot permitted
to be occupied, provided that such re¬
taining walls do not encroach upon such
minimum dimensions of yards and
courts of more than twenty-four inches,
nor extend in height above the first story
window-sills; and provided further that
there are no living-rooms below such
first-story window-sills, except those
necessary for the janitor and his family.
In measuring a court the height of a
building in future is to be measured from
the curb level to the top of the highest
wall, except that a parapet wall extend¬
ing not more than three feet above the
top of the roof beams shall not be in¬
cluded in such measurements^ in the case
of tenements not exceeding six stories
There can be, under the legislative .
bill, not more than one apartment in
any cellar, and this not to contain more
than five rooms and bath, which shall
not open upon any court less than five
feet six inches in width, and shall be
occupied solely by the janitor and his
The requirement for wire-glass win¬
dows in stairhalls is relaxed so as not
to apply to such windows opening on
the street in the case of tenement houses
not exceeding si.x stories in height.
In certain cases where a house situ¬
ated on a corner has a yard and court
giving direct access tothe street, the re¬
quirement for a fire passage through the
basement from front to rear is modified.
The last amendment contained in the
bill provides that whenever the provis¬
ions of this chapter of laws are in con¬
flict with any present, future or local
ordinance, charter or regulation, the pro¬
vision of this chapter shall in all cases