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Lawmakers want to identify homes with truss construction

Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael F. Uttaro holds

Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael F. Uttaro holds decals indicating truss construction that some homeowners would need to display under a proposed state law on Friday, June 13, 2014 at the Albertson Fire Company's headquarters in Albertson. Credit: Newsday / Daniel Rader

State lawmakers Friday pushed for passage of a bill aimed at notifying first responders of homes built of truss construction, which experts say can be more easily weakened by fire.

The bill would require building departments to alert fire chiefs when homeowners apply for construction or modification permits involving truss construction. Property owners would have to affix a decal to an electric meter box outside their home, signaling it is made of truss construction.

Truss systems can become weakened and lead to the collapse of roofs, floors, even the entire structure, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"The bill is about saving lives," said Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck), speaking at a news conference at the Albertson Fire Company Friday. Schimel said she introduced the bill five years ago and recalled separate fires this January in which there was truss failure, in North Hills and Albertson.

Emergency personnel will "know that this information is invaluable . . . when they send people into harm's way, they need to know what they're up against," said State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola), the Senate's sponsor. "This will prevent guesswork. This will provide certainty."

Schimel said the bill is similar to the state's commercial truss notification law, which requires commercial structures to have signs or symbols identifying truss construction.

The law would not apply to existing homes, unless they seek permits for renovations, though educational outreach would take place, fire officials vowed.

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