Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Fire Suppression Systems in New York City: The Evolution of Fire Suppression Equipment To Save Lives and Buildings

Purchasing New York City property is expensive. When you have such an investment, it behooves you to care for and protect your buildings, in turn protecting the tenants and staff within.

NYC has a tragic history of devastating building fires that eventually led to the implementation of fire suppression equipment, including sprinklers, extinguishers, and detectors. When was the last time you looked at a fire suppression system in New York City and considered its history? Stop wondering and keep reading.

The History of the Fire Suppression System in New York City

Rise in Immigration and Lack of Fire Escapes

The 1800s saw an increase in European settlers to New York. The people came searching for opportunity and safety from other countries. Unfortunately, the escalation of immigration quickly overpopulated existing properties, becoming fire hazards.

In 1860, a fire broke out in a lower-level bakery at the tenement house of 142 Elm Street. The property was home to 24 families, and 20 people, including women and children, lost their lives because of the inadequacy of rescue equipment — ladder trucks at the time could not extend past the fourth floor.

Following the tenement fire, city and state officials instituted an egress safety law. While this did little to address fire suppression, the law did pave the way for fire escapes and mandatory exits.

Inadequate Water Pressure and the Beginning of the Fire Suppression System in New York City

The rise of immigration in NYC led to an increase in low-wage jobs and appalling labor practices, including the development of sweatshops. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, located on the top floors of the Asch Building in Manhattan, was a prime example of industrial abuse and misconduct.

On March 25, 1911, a rag bin in the factory caught fire. A manager attempted to douse the flames with a hose, but the valve was rusted shut. The fire quickly engulfed the main level of the factory, killing 146 workers.

Violations of safety mandates made the tragedy worse. Of the three elevators in the building, only one worked. Management locked all but one door to keep employees inside. Workers above the flames had access to the roof and escaped to adjoining buildings.

Even worse, water pressure inside buildings did little for the upper floors. As a gravity-fed system, NYC’s water supply was typically unable to make it past the sixth floor with adequate pressure.

After the garment district fire, the government created new regulations requiring sprinkler systems in all commercial and residential apartment complexes. To implement the change, many buildings were retrofitted with rooftop tanks, now iconic in NYC.

Low Water Pressure and the Installation of the Early Fire Suppression System in New York City

Roughly 50 to 60 years after the tenement house fire and a couple of decades after the garment district fire, rooftop water tanks and sprinkler systems became standard additions to construction developments. Any building of six or more stories required a tank to ensure adequate water pressure throughout the property.

To get the water to the tank and into the sprinkler systems, buildings often needed to install booster pumps at ground level. The centrifugal pumps pushed the gravity-fed supply up to the roof. In the tanks, a floatation device signaled when more water was necessary. Depending on a property’s height, it may have required multiple booster pumps.

The initial and rudimentary fire suppression systems in NYC are insufficient for today’s standards. Still, those original iterations paved the way for newer designs and advanced technologies.

Modern Designs and Operations of a Fire Suppression System in New York City

Pumps still play a critical role in fire suppression, and modern booster pumps still have many things in common with the original ground-level pumps of yesterday. Now, buildings may use a series of pumps to supply adequate pressure; however, new National Fire Protection Association standards no longer allow vertical staging. Any serial fire suppression pumps must be in the same room, creating better fail-safes and improved efficiency.

While sprinkler systems are standard in apartment buildings and high-rises, they are not the only form of fire suppression found in NYC. Other critical safety systems include:

  • – Dry chemical
  • – Clean agent
  • – Foam
  • – Commercial kitchen
  • – CO2

A single property can have multiple suppression systems, depending on the activities in the building. Many business-residential properties have numerous systems in place.

Despite the differences between various systems, they all operate similarly. Each system connects to various heat and smoke sensors throughout the building. When smoke or flames trigger a sensor, an alarm sounds, and the sprinklers in the affected space release the extinguishing agent — water, foam, etc.

Beyond the Fire Suppression System in New York City

Fire Safety and Early Warning Systems

As a property owner, your concerns should go beyond fire suppression systems. While sprinkler systems are critical to the safety and longevity of your building and its tenants, other devices can help people respond or evacuate before such systems are necessary.

Fire extinguishers are not only mandatory in NYC properties, but they are also the first line of defense against small fires. If the workers in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory had access to fire extinguishers, they could have put out the initial blaze in the rag bin before it spread, saving over 100 lives.

Besides extinguishers, fire, and smoke alarms are also requirements in many buildings, especially in sleeping areas. If the tenants of the tenement building fire of 1860 had alarms, they might have escaped with their lives.

Regulations and Maintenance of a Fire Suppression System in New York City

Work With Licensed Professionals to Ensure Working Equipment

Fire prevention and safety rely on properly installing and maintaining any fire suppression system in New York City. As a property owner, you are liable for the systems in your properties, making you possibly financially culpable in the event of emergencies should safety systems fail because of negligence. Fire suppression pumps and other supply pumps require routine maintenance to ensure proper operations. Contact Antler Pumps at 212-534-2500 to schedule a property inspection of fire safety systems.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of omniagroup.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with omniagroup.nyc).

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

  • Improve our services and the Website’s content and layout;
  • Provide the services and necessary customer support you request;
  • Resolve disputes, collect fees, and troubleshoot problems;
  • Track and record customer satisfaction with our services;
  • Protect the Company against error and fraud;
  • Inform you of special promotions and announcements;
  • Enforce our agreements, terms, conditions, and policies; and
  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with Sanitaryplumbing.com.

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

4. Links to Other Sites.

The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

5. Safety & Security Precautions.

The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Omnia Mechanical Group, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

6. Opt-Out.

The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Omnia Mechanical Group. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

7. Account Protection.

Your password ensures the security of your account. When choosing a password, the Company suggests using various characters. It is highly recommended that you do not disclose your Sanitaryplumbing.com password to anyone. (If you do disclose your password or your personal information with others, you are responsible for all actions taken in the name of your account.) If the security of your password is compromised for any reason, please contact the Company immediately.

8. Accuracy of Information

The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

9. Cookies

The Company may place a small cookie on your computer’s hard drive. This allows us to personalize your use on the Website. In order to maximize the functionality and usability of the Website, you must set your browser’s preferences to allow both permanent and temporary cookies.

10. Changing Your Personal Information.

Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since omniagroup.nyc does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.