Fireproof Tenements

Tenement houses hereafter erected must not exceed six stories in height above the curb level, unless constructed fireproof. A basement is deemed a story, and a cellar is also if the cellar ceiling is more than two feet above curb level.

Fire Escapes

Fireproof tenement houses are not required to have fire escapes under the act. All non-fireproof tenement houses hereafter erected must be provided with fire escapes and there must be one fire escape opening directly from at least one room in each apartment. Vertical ladders are prohibited, and stairs at an angle of not more than sixty degrees are required. The law describes in detail how all fire escapes shall be constructed. In tenement houses less than four stories in height, and which also do not contain accommodations for more than four families, iron, steel or wire fire escapes, of a pattern to be approved by the Tenement House Department, may be used, instead of iron balconies and stairs.


In non-fireproof tenement houses hereafter erected there is to be one flight of stairs for every 26 apartments, but if the house contains not more than 36 apartments the halls and stairs may each be widened one-half in lieu of another flight of stairs. In fireproof tenement houses hereafter erected there must be one flight of stairs for each 36 apartments, but if there are not more than 48 apartments in the house, the halls and stairs may be widened one-half in lieu of the second stairway. All stairs must have a rise of not more than seven and a half inches, with treads not less than ten inches in width and three feet in length. Winders are permitted under such conditions. All stairs must be fireproof construction; risers, strings and banisters to be metal or stone; treads to be of metal or stone, or of hardwood not less than two inches thick.

Public Halls

No public hall can be less than three feet wide and the stair halls in all tenement houses hereafter erected are to be constructed fireproof throughout; floors to be of iron or steel beams and fireproof flooring; no wooden floorings or sleepers to be permitted. Stair and entrance halls must be enclosed on all sides with brick walls, and in non-fireproof tenement houses hereafter erected the doors opening from stair halls must be fireproof and self-closing. Transoms or other openings from stair halls to other parts of the house are prohibited. The stair halls are to be shut off from all non-fireproof portions of the public halls and from all other non-fireproof parts of the building on each story by self-closing fireproof doors. Windows of stair halls opening on courts must be wire-glass and fire-proof frames. Entrance halls must be at least three feet six inches wide, access to be had from street to yard. New buildings not over three stories and cellar in height are exempted from the fireproofing requirements of these provisions.


In all tenement houses hereafter erected five stories or more in height, not including the cellar, the first floor above the cellar is to be constructed fireproof, with iron or steel beams and fireproof flooring. In non-fireproof tenement houses hereafter erected less than five stories in height, when the first tier is not constructed fireproof, the cellar ceiling is required to be lathed with wire or metal lath.

Cellar Stairs

In non-fireproof tenement houses exceeding three stories in height inside stairs to the cellar are prohibited; and where outside stairs to the cellar are enclosed, they are to be constructed fireproof. In fireproof buildings the cellar stairs may be inside the building, provided they are not located underneath the stairs leading to the upper stories, and that the portions of the cellar into which the stairs lead are entirely shut off by fireproof walls, with fireproof doors to all openings in such walls, from those portions of the cellar used for the storage of fuel or in which heating appliances, boilers or machinery are located. In non-fireproof tenement houses hereafter erected, closets under the first-story staircase are prohibited, and the space is required to be left open. In every tenement house hereafter erected an entrance to the cellar from the outside of the building is required, and where the first tier of beams is not fireproof and the building exceeds three stories in height, all wood bins or receptacles for fuel or storage in the cellar must be constructed fireproof.

Frame Tenement Houses

Outside of the fire limits wooden tenement houses may be constructed, but must not exceed two stories in height, not including the cellar, nor must they provide accommodations for nor be occupied by more than four families nor have more than two families on a floor. Such houses are exempted from complying with practically all of the provisions of the act in regard to protection from fire. No wooden building may hereafter be built or placed upon the same lot with a tenement house within the fire limits.

Percentage Of Lot Occupied

In tenement houses hereafter erected, buildings on corner lots may not occupy more than 90 per cent. On interior lots only 70 per cent of the lot may be occupied. In certain cases the measurements may be taken at the levels of the second tier of beams.

Limitation Of Height

No tenement house hereafter erected shall exceed in height the width of the widest street upon which it stands by more than one-half. This limits new buildings on streets 60 feet wide to 90 feet high, and on avenues 100 feet wide to 150 feet in height.

This limitation is entirely irrespective of any provision regarding fireproofing.