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Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?

 
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:30 PM   #1
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Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


I have a question for contractors, architects, and/or engineers.

Premises are a 6 story 1929 non-sprinkler apartment building in NYC. Due to chronic neglect from the previous owner, endless leaks have rotted the floor joists on one apartment line and these joists must be replaced on several floors.

One of rooms needing the joist work is a bedroom at the corner of the building and measures 19’(L) x 11’(W) and also gives access to the 2nd means of egress: the fire escape. Fire escape is accessed via two windows on the 11’ wide masonry wall and the joists run parallel to this wall. The joists are 3”x8” Douglass fir, 12” on center…approx. 10 joists, starting at the exterior/fire escape wall will need replacing on both the floor and the ceiling.

Joists are approximately16’ long, socketed into the exterior masonry wall on one end - the 19’(L) wall – and a steel ‘I’ beam on the other end. Steel I beam is located in an adjacent bedroom.

Ceiling joists will be replaced first, then floor joists. This will mean 10’ or so of the 19’ long room will be an open cavity (i.e., a ten foot cavity of removed joists starting at the fire escape wall), so that the floor to the fire escape cannot be walked across. The joists replacement need not all be done simultaneously, one joist at a time can be removed/replaced.

Is there safe method to approach this construction with the tenant remaining in occupancy in the apartment? This would mean planning and implementing a method of accessing the fire escape – and safely crossing any open cavity on the floor - in an emergency. Potentially crossing a 10’ span (but perhaps only just 2’-3’ at a time as each joist is replaced). The solution must meet building and construction codes.

Someone mentioned a ‘footbridge’ spanning the 10-foot cavity while the floor joists are replaced. Maybe even a covered footbridge. Does this sound like a viable option? Anyone have experience or familiar with this or any other techniques for providing access to the fire escape?

Thanks a bunch.
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:47 PM   #2
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


You need to ask the Fire Marshalls office

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Old 11-15-2010, 06:19 AM   #3
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovegasoline View Post

One of rooms needing the joist work is a bedroom at the corner of the building and measures 19’(L) x 11’(W) and also gives access to the 2nd means of egress: the fire escape. Fire escape is accessed via two windows on the 11’ wide masonry wall and the joists run parallel to this wall. The joists are 3”x8” Douglass fir, 12” on center…approx. 10 joists, starting at the exterior/fire escape wall will need replacing on both the floor and the ceiling.

Joists are approximately16’ long, socketed into the exterior masonry wall on one end - the 19’(L) wall – and a steel ‘I’ beam on the other end. Steel I beam is located in an adjacent bedroom.

Ceiling joists will be replaced first, then floor joists. This will mean 10’ or so of the 19’ long room will be an open cavity (i.e., a ten foot cavity of removed joists starting at the fire escape wall), so that the floor to the fire escape cannot be walked across. The joists replacement need not all be done simultaneously, one joist at a time can be removed/replaced.

Is there safe method to approach this construction with the tenant remaining in occupancy in the apartment? This would mean planning and implementing a method of accessing the fire escape – and safely crossing any open cavity on the floor - in an emergency. Potentially crossing a 10’ span (but perhaps only just 2’-3’ at a time as each joist is replaced). The solution must meet building and construction codes.

Someone mentioned a ‘footbridge’ spanning the 10-foot cavity while the floor joists are replaced. Maybe even a covered footbridge. Does this sound like a viable option? Anyone have experience or familiar with this or any other techniques for providing access to the fire escape?

Thanks a bunch.
Sounds like someones getting sued There is no way in hell I would even think about a project of that nature with "tenants" in place.

End result, tenant falls, gets banged up and owns a 6 story building and a construction company
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:09 AM   #4
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Rent some furniture and move them into a vacant apt.-or foot the bill for a hotel.

You will be able to work faster and not put the building owners and yourself in such a liability loop.

Seems foolish not to do that.
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Old 11-17-2010, 07:00 PM   #5
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Tenant is not agreeable to temporarily relocating and from what I understand it is their right to decline.
On the plus side, the apartment is huge and sprawling, three bathrooms, 6 rooms and a kitchen, the repair site is in the furthest back corner isolated from the rest of the place by a long hallway also with a door, in addition to the doors on both rooms which will see the renovations. The only challenge is maintaining fire escape access (and maybe the fire rating of the rooms likely solved by some and additional temporary door or something).

The question is how can the job be approached within this set of limitations. That it will take longer and cost more is without doubt. I'm thinking that instead of just demolishing a 10' x 10' area of floor joists, that one joist at a time can be removed/replaced methodically working across the damaged area. The question is how to safely provide for access to the fire escape across whatever floor area is being worked on in the event of an emergency? I'm not familiar with conventional methods of implementing this and I'd like to hear options and suggestions.

Anyone have knowledge of this?
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Old 11-17-2010, 08:04 PM   #6
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


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Originally Posted by Lovegasoline View Post
Tenant is not agreeable to temporarily relocating and from what I understand it is their right to decline.
While there are some wacky laws and loopholes out there, I find this very hard to believe.

If work is necessary to restore the structural integrity of the building, the owner is legally obligated to have it done, or get his tenants out of there. If it's not practical to do the work while maintaining tenant safety, the same obligation applies.

As long as the landlord foots the bill for the temporary relocation, the tenant has no choice.
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Old 11-18-2010, 01:12 AM   #7
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


As I wrote, I am looking for construction/engineering solutions. It's fruitless to argue otherwise: Tenant has an attorney and while it is most definitely easier/cheaper to perform the work in an empty apartment, no city agency has or will issue a vacate order. Period. End of story. Unless it is a complete physical impossibility to get the job done, a way(s) must be found.

Surely, if the Space Shuttle can go into space, there has to be a method to perform repairs safely while maintaining access to the fire escape, I'm certain this problem has been solved in various ways previously. Again, I understand a solution will likely be slower and more costly, that is not at issue presently. I'd like to survey some possible options, brainstorm a bit, get some feedback. Eventually, a solution will be selected that is agreeable to everyone. The more options, the better in my opinion.

Again, I'm looking for technical ideas. Then getting all parties on board. I'm not approaching this from a confrontational position as I do not think it is what the circumstances call for.

Any ideas, please do bang 'em out.
Thanks a bunch!
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:05 AM   #8
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Then I might suggest you get an engineer involved that can actually see whats going on. That will be the first stop for the selected contractor anyways.
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Old 11-18-2010, 06:19 AM   #9
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Have you called the fire marshal yet?

What has you all worried, might not be allowed by the fire marshal at all---

Before you spend hours making plans,get a few rules of the game----There might be a lawyer involved here--
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:47 AM   #10
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Get a old piece of fire escape from a salvage yard use this as your temp foot bridge wont be any different than when they are outside six stories up.

But definitely work with fire Marshal
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:56 AM   #11
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovegasoline View Post
As I wrote, I am looking for construction/engineering solutions. It's fruitless to argue otherwise.....

Again, I'm looking for technical ideas. Then getting all parties on board. I'm not approaching this from a confrontational position
You are being more than a little confrontational. You have been told more than once that you need the direct input of the Fire Marshall, and that we cannot guess what to do in a complicated situation none of us can see.

You are potentially compromising fall walls, fire floors, structural integrity and fire egress.

We cannot see what you are dealing with. The landlord must get in contact with the Fire Marshall, and possibly other agencies.

Bitching to us that we are of no help is stupid.

And just what trade is "interior art". If I had a complicated structural repair in an old building, I would not look towards an "interior artist" for guidance.

Who are you really?
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:54 AM   #12
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


As it has been said....Contact the Fire Marshall, safety inspector, engineer, etc. They would let you know your options (if any) to keep the space occupied during repairs. I would definately suggest contacting someone with experience in these situations. Your insurance company would be top on my list as well. It might not be what you want to hear, but no job is worth the liability that would be incurred for something like this.
If lawyers are already involved they should know that any solution would have to meet fire marshall, safety inspector, and all ordinances before the idea is even on the table.
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:48 PM   #13
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Sight unseen I don't really know. But it sounds like the building is structurally unsound now, our city would condemn the building and the tenant would have to leave. Permits would be issued, work done, inspections performed and a new CO issued. Usually it's new tenants moving in afterward.

Good Luck
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Old 11-18-2010, 01:17 PM   #14
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


I think this whole thread might just be pulling our (collective) leg.

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Quite obviously this job will need engineered plans yet an artist is asking the questions.
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Old 11-18-2010, 02:05 PM   #15
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


And all of the OP's posts are in this one thread. The whole thing sounds ridiculous to me.

The fire marshal should be able to tell you concisely what needs to be done for tenant safety. If one joist is replaced at a time, I would think the only concern would be when the contractor is not on site after work hours. I would just put down a temp floor to cover the missing joist(s) provided the marshal was okay with that. There is no way to maintain code while in the middle the repair, so the if they are not, then the tenant would have to vacate, and if they tenant won't leave, then it can't be done. Plain and simple....easy peasy.

Now go hire a contractor who understands such basic things and stop posing.
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Old 11-19-2010, 01:34 PM   #16
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


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Quite obviously this job will need engineered plans
Actually not. Many areas do not require plans, plan submital and permits when the repair is done to a existing structure. In such as case though, it is required that a PE inspect and visit the site, and send report(s) to the city for their files.
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Old 11-19-2010, 01:58 PM   #17
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


Hey Anti, this is NYC, the California of the east. Trust me, before anything is done they will require and engineers involvement. Not up to a construction company to resolve.

One more thing, the apartment owner is most likely the one asking the questions.
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Old 11-19-2010, 02:06 PM   #18
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Re: Joists Replacement While Maintaining Fire Escape Access?


PE = Professional Engineer

So I wasn't claiming that an engineer would not be required, I was just stating that in many repairs a permit is not required. But rigorous inspections by a Professional Engineer (PE) will be required by both the AHJ and any insurance companies.

I also assumed that the OP was not who they claimed to be

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Last edited by Anti-wingnut; 11-19-2010 at 02:08 PM.
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