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Re: Jersey City Fire prevention Division violations
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Listers, in response to a post regarding violations written by the JCFD, I posted about the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and different editions. However, I neglected to provide the link if you want to look up which specific code edition applies to your building, or work you’ve had done on your building. So here it is:

http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/ ... _Model_Code_Adoptions.pdf

The table shows the dates when the particular edition of Code was “in effect”. In general, any work undertaken must satisfy the requirements of the Code in effect at the time the work is performed. When a new edition of code comes into effect, there’s a 6 months “grace” period, during which time on-going work, or work already approved can be finished using the “old” code. If you don’t finish within the 6 months, then you are supposed to “update” the work to the new code edition requirements.

The JC Building department should have copies of all of these codes – but try getting anything out of that mess…. Many public libraries have copies of prior editions of the codes as well. And if you care for a trip to Trenton, DCA has them of course.

Posted on: 6/4 1:30
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Re: Jersey City Fire prevention Division violations
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Quote:

Montenegro wrote:
Could you please advise me what should I write on appeal letter?? I am planning to appeal but not sure, on what law to rely in order to get this thing done? You can reach me directly at : gjenashaj@icloud.com


I cant advise you what to say or do – I don’t know the specifics of your situation and I am not an attorney. You should go hire one. But I can tell you what I did....

For my situation, what I told them was my house did not need any further work to meet code requirements. It had been upgraded to meet the requirements of the retrofit code, and the codes in effect at that time, so did not require any more work because of later Code updates. I referenced that NJR section I described here previously.

In my submission I included the applicable code sections from the 1984 and 1987 BOCA codes. I showed that my house was less than 5 stories, the use group R, the windowless basement was less than 3,000 sq feet, and I had an interconnected, automatic smoke alarm system installed in accordance with NJAC 5:70-4.9 (a) 3 i. Therefore, according to the applicable BOCA code requirements, I did not need suppression (sprinklers), nor did I need central monitoring to meet the requirements.

I had evidence for everything I said, including copies of the NJR, the NJAC, the UFC and the BOCA code sections, and few other things as well – photographs of the house and basement, the green card, a sketch of the basement, the survey showing the dimensions…. Everything I needed to provide proof what I was arguing was true and correct. No one had to take my word alone for anything, there was evidence from other sources to support and corroborate everything I claimed.

That was basically it. I explained my position and without contesting my analysis, the Fire Department conceded and withdrew the violation and fines and I was free to go on my way.

The whole experience completely changed my view of JC Fire Department, as their tactics seemed to me more like those of stand-over thugs than professionals empowered by law to enforce the Code. I don't know for sure, but I ended up with the distinct impression what they were trying to do was force me to sell my house on the cheap.

I worked in a heavily regulated sector, so I knew how codes and regulations work. It was time-consuming but relatively straight forward for me to research and figure out.

I was left wondering if it’s a pattern… There were several incidents along the way, peripheral to the central matter of the correct use of the Codes, that led me to question if it isn't something they do repeatedly. It was so abusive, and seemed so “pre-planned”. I honestly don’t know – I don’t have any evidence, but it would be easy enough for the FBI / DOJ to investigate. All they’d need to do is examine the outcomes of every windowless basement violation issued by the JCFD, and subsequent sales of those properties… the patterns would become clear. It wouldn't be the first time corruption reared it's ugly head in Jersey City.... Perhaps it happens in other cities across the State as well - who knows?

Posted on: 5/25 13:14
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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Here’s the section of the NJR I cited yesterday. Older NJR (New Jersey Register) records can be difficult to search, so I thought it could be helpful to post. The citation is 24 N.J.R. 739, Monday, March 2, 1992. Old NJR’s are cited by page, so you need to read the entire page to find the section of interest. They are on the web – in .pdf format – with text that can’t be searched by computer. Challenging to find what you need.

The response below is from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to a comment from the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA) about the impact of Code updates. I’ve added the bold to highlight the clear guidance from DCA in response to the NJBA comment. The “retrofit” referred to are the requirements of the UFC, as the comment / response was in the context of proposed amendments to the UFC mandates. However, the guidance holds generally. If the work met current code requirements in effect at the time of construction or updating (rehab / installation) then you’re done – often shorthanded as “pre-existing condition.” If you do look it up, don’t be confused by the NJAC 5:18 reference. That section is the original UFC reference, subsequently renumbered to the current NJAC 5:70 reference in use today.

“RESPONSE: References to the Uniform Construction Code are made only for the purpose of establishing installation standards for required equipment and systems. These references avoid problems for construction officials, allow for advances in technology, and result in reduced confusion. Moreover, once a building has met the requirements of the retrofit and has received either a certificate of occupancy or a certificate of approval for the required systems, no further upgrading would be required because of a change in the Uniform Construction Code.”


Posted on: 5/24 9:09
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Re: Jersey City Fire prevention Division violations
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Could you please advise me what should I write on appeal letter?? I am planning to appeal but not sure, on what law to rely in order to get this thing done? You can reach me directly at : gjenashaj@icloud.com

Posted on: 5/24 8:42
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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In my limited experience with the JCFD inspectors, they're poorly trained. I wanted a definitive answer to where to place smoke and CO detectors in a unit, so I took a floor plan drawing to the firehouse and met with an inspector. Among other fuzzy comments, she said there should be a monoxide detector in the kitchen in case the pilot light goes out. I gently pointed out that if the pilot goes out, there's no combustion, and CO was created by incomplete combustion. She had no idea really where CO came from.

For the record, CO detectors are required outside bedroom doors.

Posted on: 5/23 23:53
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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Quote:

brewster wrote:
Seems to me there's plenty of examples of code requirements being enforced that were non-existent at time of construction. Fire escapes, stairwell smoke detectors and emergency lighting come to mind, as well as the handrails I mentioned.


Correct, any 3 or more, multi-family building built before the UCC came into effect in 1977 was required by the introduction of the NJ UFC (aka “retrofit” code, NJAC 5-70:1-4) in the mid/late 1980’s to be “upgraded” with various fire safety features. There had been several tragic fires, with multiple fatalities, in older buildings and the State introduced the UFC to upgrade the safety of older housing stock. The Code in effect when the UFC was introduced was the BOCA code, 1984 and 1987 editions. The UFC was amended several times shortly after introduction, and in the meantime the BOCA code was also updated, thus, the two applicable editions. An owner had to do the work to keep their green card. If they didn’t, then the building became unregistered and illegal for renting.

So if we think of a hypothetical JC brownstone, typical construction and layout, originally constructed in 1890 and converted to a 4-family in 1925, that building was mandated to be “retrofitted” by the UFC in the late 1980’s. Once that work was done on the building, inspected and passed, that was it – it had met the requirements of the UFC. It wasn’t required to have further upgrades – I gave you the citation to the NJR previously – just because a new code edition was released subsequently. However, if “rehabilitation” work is done on the building, that does trigger the need for updates to current codes – I’m oversimplifying for the sake of brevity, but see the rehab code for details (NJAC 5:23-6, et seq.)

What is NOT supposed to happen to that 4 family brownstone that met the UFC requirements in the late 1980’s and hasn’t had any “rehab” work since, is for an Inspector to come along and say, “Oh, now we have a new code, the 2006 UCC, and you don’t meet the requirements, so you need to do X, Y and Z.” But lots of Inspectors do it, and the JCFD does it. No one understands the rules, and the Inspectors pick home owners off in small numbers over time, so they get away with it…. But it isn’t what the Regulations permit or require.

This is why it is essential to know the specific edition of code that applies to your building – so you can push back if they ask for something crazy that comes from some later code edition. That said, for the simple, inexpensive, sensible stuff, I used to just do it anyway, even if it wasn’t actually “required” according to a correct application of the correct code edition. For the sprinkler I drew the line because of the costs and heavy-handed, threatening and intimidating way the FD approached me. They acted more like thugs than professional law enforcement officers and all the while they were wrong.

Posted on: 5/23 22:25
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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Quote:

Bamb00zle wrote:
Quote:

MDM wrote:
What is the deal with 'windowless basement'? Are the windows required as an alternative to escape a fire or something?

Newer buildings, yes. Older buildings it depends on several factors including the age of the building and the particular edition / version of code the building has met. It's not a simple black and white, yes or no, answer.


All my buildings have front and back basement egresses whether or not they have windows. Why isn't that taken into account?

Seems to me there's plenty of examples of code requirements being enforced that were non-existent at time of construction. Fire escapes, stairwell smoke detectors and emergency lighting come to mind, as well as the handrails I mentioned.

Posted on: 5/23 21:08
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Re: Jersey City Fire prevention Division violations
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brewster wrote:
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Bamb00zle wrote:
This “Windowless basement” violation is a complete, total racket, and has been for 30 years. I’ve left you a lengthy pm with additional details.


I doubt anyone would object to your posting your lengthy pm here, I'm real interested in this subject! The state seems to have no qualms about citations on long existing conditions in Greencarded buildings, like suddenly requiring handrails on basement hatch steps or exterior backyard lighting. If the city is getting into the game, that's going to be a hassle. I think I've had one fire inspection in 20 years.


Brewster, thanks for the kind invitation but I am sure you'll understand if I politely decline.

The correct approach is as I outlined – if a building or installation met code (was inspected and passed) at the time of construction / installation then that’s the end of it. The State, Fire Department, City can’t at some later point arbitrarily require you to meet the requirements of a newer Code version, just because it’s available - see 24 N.J.R. 739. You have to be doing rehab, or some work on the building, to trigger the application of new code requirements.

Nevertheless, I typically take a fairly pragmatic approach to simple “violations.” For less expensive, easy to “fix” things that make sense – handrails on stairs, easily installed lights and so on I’ll just do it, but I always look the inspector directly in the eye and cordially ask which edition of the UCC (NOT NJAC section) is he or she using? In my experience, that’s been sufficient to politely signal you know the game and put an end to the nonsense.

The windowless basement “violation” is a whole other matter…. The FD tried this on me a few years ago. There’s real money in it, sometimes even a building on the cheap. Sprinklers are expensive and can be destructive to install in an old building – even if only in the basement, and can require periodic inspections ($), testing (more $) and on and on. Moreover the City and Fire Department also want you to install a centrally monitored alarm as well. More on-going, subscription costs – every month, forever. Big bucks.

When they tried to make me do this a few years ago, I refused and went to Court. Sounds they are still at it, attempting to intimidate people into retrofitting basement sprinklers, or worse…? Long and short of it, the FD withdrew the violation – they knew they were wrong. My old building had been retro-fitted at the time to meet the requirements of the UFC when it was introduced (mid/late 80’s). Nothing had been done subsequently to the building to trigger the application of any newer Code edition that required sprinklers or a monitored alarm. If I had “rehabbed” the building, then yes, the requirements of the Code in effect when the “rehab” was undertaken would have to be met.

I finally had enough of the City and State's nonsense, and as you may recall - I posted here some time ago - when the reval became a done deal, I sold the building. And I'm not sorry about it at all.

Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to provide concise and accurate responses to the best of my knowledge.

Posted on: 5/23 17:06
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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MDM wrote:
What is the deal with 'windowless basement'? Are the windows required as an alternative to escape a fire or something?

Newer buildings, yes. Older buildings it depends on several factors including the age of the building and the particular edition / version of code the building has met. It's not a simple black and white, yes or no, answer.

Posted on: 5/23 16:53
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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MDM wrote:
What is the deal with 'windowless basement'? Are the windows required as an alternative to escape a fire or something?


Yes, exactly. A second means of egress. Most cities I've lived in have that same law. And that means no window bars on said basement window as well.

Posted on: 5/23 14:40
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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What is the deal with 'windowless basement'? Are the windows required as an alternative to escape a fire or something?

Posted on: 5/23 14:29
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Re: Jersey City Fire prevention Division violations
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Bamb00zle wrote:
This “Windowless basement” violation is a complete, total racket, and has been for 30 years. I’ve left you a lengthy pm with additional details.


I doubt anyone would object to your posting your lengthy pm here, I'm real interested in this subject! The state seems to have no qualms about citations on long existing conditions in Greencarded buildings, like suddenly requiring handrails on basement hatch steps or exterior backyard lighting. If the city is getting into the game, that's going to be a hassle. I think I've had one fire inspection in 20 years.

Posted on: 5/23 14:12
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Re: Jersey City Fire prevention Division violations
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This “Windowless basement” violation is a complete, total racket, and has been for 30 years. I’ve left you a lengthy pm with additional details.

Many smaller, less than 5 stories, older (pre-1977) residential building with windowless basements less than 3,000 sq ft DO NOT requite either suppression or central monitoring. The reason is because they met the requirements of past Code editions in effect at the time that did not mandate these features (BOCA 1984 and 1987, sections 1718 and 1020, respectively). Those older, pre-1977 buildings had to be updated when the UFC came into effect in the mid and late 1980's. They used the BOCA code as the basis for what came to be known as the "retro-fit" requirements. Anything newly built or rehabbed after 1977 must have met the code requirement in effect at the time. You couldn't get a CO or a green card if the building didn't.

The general approach is that if a building or installation met the Code requirement in effect at the time the work was performed, then no updates are necessary just because a new version of the Code comes in effect. Often shorthanded as "pre-existing condition."

Posted on: 5/23 12:13
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Jersey City Fire prevention Division violations
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PLEASE has anyone received ORDER TO PAY PENALTY AND ABATE VIOLATIONS by Fire Prevention Division?

I have bought a three family house in 2015 and the building has a Green Card, passed all the city and state inspection. I do not live in the building and have not checked for the mail in the last month. Today when I checked my mail, I was summoned with this thick envelope citing every kind of violations, from Smoke Detectors to Windowless Basement-Code Compliant Fire Suppression System Required? Has anyone gone through a similar experience? Did you appeal? What was the outcome?? Any experience is greatly experienced because I do not have the slightest clue why all of a sudden Jersey City is targeting homeowners with special inspection.


Posted on: 5/22 21:17
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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So the notice of violation is a general check up list for the sole purpose of triggering an inspection? Right?

Posted on: 2015/8/11 19:03
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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On July 18th our condo building (13 units) received the same letter with seven 'violations' to correct. I wrote to and spoke with the Mayor's offfice. I actually am glad we are forced to ensure that our standpipe, signs, fire escape, smoke & CO2 detetectors are being required to be inspected. My issue was with the process, not the protocol. To send a letter of "Violations and Order to Correct" without technically inspecting the building, and giving us three weeks in the middle of the Summer to hire contractors was unrealistic. We were granted a small extension, and have a reliable board and good property manager so we can be ready for inspection. I personally wouldn't appeal this. Just think what would happen if these items were NOT inspected and up to code and something happened...Then, you'd really need attorney(s)!

Posted on: 2015/8/11 14:42
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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ank00 wrote:
Bamb00zle - instead of going thru the demanded reports/fixes, I have filed an appeal with the JC Construction Board of Appeals. I want someone to explain to me what these regulations are and how they differ from the Green Card inspections. My hearing is probably scheduled for the 3rd Wed of next month. Will let you guys know what comes out of it....such a waste of time.


Good luck Ank. You might want to look at City Ordinance 14.117, passed September 2014, establishing the JC Fire Prevention Bureau. And also the New Jersey Administrative Code, Title 5, Chapters 70, 71, and the sub-chapters. These are the various regulations of the Uniform Fire Code the JC FPB will enforce. The Construction Board of Appeal will use these regulations and the City Ordinance to make their determination about what is required. Suggest you think about taking an attorney, since a City attorney usually attends.

Posted on: 2015/5/16 17:39
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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Bamb00zle - instead of going thru the demanded reports/fixes, I have filed an appeal with the JC Construction Board of Appeals. I want someone to explain to me what these regulations are and how they differ from the Green Card inspections. My hearing is probably scheduled for the 3rd Wed of next month. Will let you guys know what comes out of it....such a waste of time.

Posted on: 2015/5/15 16:35
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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ank00 wrote:
Folks,

Received a certified letter from Jersey City Fire dept notifying me of "notice of violation and order to correct" per the Uniform Fire Code. The exact violations are:

1. Fire Escape Engineer Report required
2. Carbon Monoxide/Smoke Detector Test
3. Non-Life Hazard Use Fee - $135
4. Provide Access for Inspection

I've owned this property for 3 years (downtown JC) and never received anything like this. Moreover, I have spoken to my neighbors who have been living there for 30+ years and they have never received anything like this in the past or now. I am wondering if anyone is aware of this new money generating scheme that the city has come up with. Thinking about fighting it so any insight from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

BTW - the fire escape inspection is another $300. Thanks!


Just curious, who is doing the fire escape engineer report for you?

Another approach if it gets too crazy with violations, code requirements, fines and so forth, is to convert to a 2-family. The code requirements are a lot less difficult. A conversion might trigger a tax reassessment, but you can appeal a ridiculous increase. Also, the State and JC Fire Prevention Bureau don't routinely inspect 2-family buildings, so there's one less thing to deal with, and I don't think there are any yearly registration fees.

Posted on: 2015/5/15 13:57
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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Agree that the fire safety codes are important responsibility and opportunity. With that in mind this link provides the detailed requirements for fire escapes on existing buildings, which was one of violations mentioned in the original post.

http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/ ... cations/pdf_fto/fto_3.pdf

FTO-3 (Formal Technical Opinion) was first issued in March 1985 and most recently updated in January 2011. Building owners and Code officials need to follow these requirements. As the FTO notes at the bottom of page 7: “Pursuant to authority of N.J.S.A. 52:27d-119 et seq., as amended, the above formal technical opinion is considered to be binding upon all code officials.”

Posted on: 2015/5/12 21:48
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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I understand why landlords don't like the idea of violations, inspections, fines, and what they perceive as government intrusions. But I am glad to see the JCFD stepping up and aggressively enforcing the Fire Code. Properly installed fire detection and suppression equipment saves lives and it will also save your livelihood in the event of a lawsuit. Think of these standards and devices in the way that you think of aircraft equipment; you want it in top condition, checked and certified for reliability. Furthermore, once you choose to rent your property to others, you're entering into a social contract with the public that expects your due diligence to protect the safety of others on your property. Instead of thinking of this as a burden, see the UFC as an important responsibility. Now, if the JCFD is acting in an arbitrary or unprofessional manner, that's another problem. However, the basic expectation that you abide by the law and ensure the reliability of your safety equipment with professional checks hardly seems like a reason for outrage. I'm sure those who have lost loved ones in Jersey City apartment fires would agree.

Posted on: 2015/5/11 9:10
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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In the New Jersey Register, at 18 N.J.R. 1260, the following is found regarding fire escapes:
5:18-4.II(a)1. Much public comment centered on the proposed section which appeared to require the compliance of many existing fire escapes with newly adopted construction requirements. This section has been modified to require only new fire escapes to meet those more restrictive requirements. Existing, serviceable fire escapes need not be changed. (added underscore)

Posted on: 2015/5/10 12:28
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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ank00 wrote:
For these -

1. Submit Fire Alarm Report - Annual NFPA-72

2. Submit Test Report for Battery Operated Smoke Alarms

3. Submit Test Report for Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarms


I was told to "test" the smoke detectors and fire alarms myself and fill out a form (can be obtained from the FD office on Marin Blvd) notifying that you have tested these alarms and confirm that they work and then get that form notorized. That's all you have to do for #1 thru #3 violations.


I was told self inspection was not adequate for hardwired alarms, they must be inspected by an electrician. Seemed like BS.

Posted on: 2015/4/29 11:40
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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CaptainOats wrote:
Crazy though here, it's a legitimate request for which you should comply. It's about the safety of you and your tenants.


We are already getting inspected by the City and the State (Dept. of Community affairs). As part of their testing, they check the smokes, CO detectors, and emergency lights. We already pay a fee to the State to have the inspection done.

This is just one more inspection on top of already existing inspections.... with another fee.

Posted on: 2015/4/29 11:09
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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Crazy though here, it's a legitimate request for which you should comply. It's about the safety of you and your tenants. I'm guessing it has to do with recent apt fires in the headlines in NY and NJ so the city is making sure buildings are up to code.

As a tenant I would want my landlord to confirm to all codes for my safety and the safety of other. Aren't the lives of your tenants worth a few hundred dollars?

Posted on: 2015/4/29 9:35
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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For these -

1. Submit Fire Alarm Report - Annual NFPA-72

2. Submit Test Report for Battery Operated Smoke Alarms

3. Submit Test Report for Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarms


I was told to "test" the smoke detectors and fire alarms myself and fill out a form (can be obtained from the FD office on Marin Blvd) notifying that you have tested these alarms and confirm that they work and then get that form notorized. That's all you have to do for #1 thru #3 violations.

Posted on: 2015/4/29 8:37
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@jcindividual - I've filed an appeal regarding these 4 violations as i didn't think it was justified. There is a $50 fee to file for an appeal (go figure) but I am willing to take my chances. My firefighter neighbor said to ask for postponement as many times are possible and sooner or later the city will forget about it as they don't have the manpower to keep up with these type of "issues".

Posted on: 2015/4/29 8:05
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
#16
Home away from home
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MDM wrote:
How was your fire extinguisher issue resolved? I do the same as you, supply them to the tenants as a courtesy. They have proved useful twice to me.


I removed them! (just for the inspection) What nonsense, huh?

Posted on: 2015/4/28 18:14
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
#15
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MDM wrote:
http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/Abou ... s/72/99InspecTestForm.pdf

http://www.associatedfire.com/service ... fire-alarm-inspection-nj/


If more than one person is getting these notices that means someone in the Fulop administration just found a law and fee schedule that hasn't been enforced in decades.

This is one way to get more $$$ for the city.


Thanks! These inspection companies are getting a good return on their political donations.

Posted on: 2015/4/28 16:29
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Re: Notice of violation & Order to correct - JCFD
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http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/Abou ... s/72/99InspecTestForm.pdf

http://www.associatedfire.com/service ... fire-alarm-inspection-nj/


If more than one person is getting these notices that means someone in the Fulop administration just found a law and fee schedule that hasn't been enforced in decades.

This is one way to get more $$$ for the city.

Posted on: 2015/4/28 15:44
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