Fire Safety (2015-MS-1)

Issued Date
May 27, 2015

[read complete report - pdf]

We also released ten letter reports to the following municipalities: Cities of Ithaca [pdf], North Tonawanda [pdf], Plattsburgh [pdf], Poughkeepsie [pdf], Rome [pdf], Saratoga Springs [pdf], and White Plains [pdf], and the Villages of Hempstead [pdf], Lindenhurst [pdf] and Patchogue [pdf].

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine if local government officials’ use of municipal resources resulted in an effective enforcement of the Fire Code (i.e., fire safety of buildings) within their jurisdictions for the period January 1 through December 31, 2013.


The 2010 Fire Code of New York State (Fire Code) requires an approved fire safety plan and evacuation plan to be prepared and maintained for most buildings. The plans must be reviewed or updated at least once a year, or as necessitated by changes in staff assignments, occupancy or building layout. The Executive Law and New York State Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) generally provide that cities, counties, towns and villages are responsible for enforcing the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (Uniform Code). However, the State Education Department is responsible for Uniform Code enforcement with respect to school districts and boards of cooperative education service buildings.

Key Findings

  • None of the municipalities fully complied with their Fire Code responsibilities. For example, officials from five municipalities (Hempstead, Lindenhurst, North Tonawanda, Plattsburgh and Poughkeepsie) did not review or approve fire safety or evacuation plans.
  • Of the 96 buildings visited, 73 (76 percent) did not have a fire safety plan on file that met the minimum Fire Code requirements. Forty-four (46 percent) did not have an evacuation plan on file that complied with the Fire Code. Finally, 54 (56 percent) did not conduct the required number of evacuation drills.
  • Five municipalities (Lindenhurst, Hempstead, North Tonawanda, Saratoga Springs and White Plains) did not submit their 2013 Uniform Code Administration and Enforcement Report to the New York State Department of State, as required.

Key Recommendations

  • Identify which buildings must have a fire plan and evacuation plan and ensure they have plans that meet the minimum Fire Code requirements.
  • Review and approve all fire plans and evacuation plans in accordance with the Fire Code.
  • Keep documented evidence detailing when fire plans and evacuation plans were reviewed and approved.