Previously known as Local Law 11, the New York City Department of Buildings’ (NYCDOB) Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) requires that owners of buildings greater than six stories retain a professional engineer or registered architect to examine the building’s exterior walls every five years, and file a façade report.
The FISP Critical Examination consists of visual observations of all exterior walls, with additional close-up examination of at least one representative full-height portion of a street-facing façade. The professional engineer determines the necessary extent of the examination. The examination also includes all balconies, railings, fire escape stairs, and any other appurtenances on the building’s façades. The close-up examination can be performed from a suspended scaffold, house rig, boom lift, or other viable means of access. Based on the findings of the examination, the engineer’s Critical Examination report classifies a building’s façades into one of three categories: “Safe”, “Safe with Repair and Maintenance Program”, or “Unsafe.”
DRPILLA has assisted clients for many years on all aspects of the FISP process, helping owners remain in compliance with the NYCDOB façade safety requirements. Our services include the FISP critical examination itself, along with all of the required follow-on work, including preparing contract documents for the repairs, assisting in bidding and negotiation with qualified contractors, and performing construction phase services.
There have been recent Amendments to the FISP rules which went into effect on February 20, 2020. Highlights of the proposed changes include:
- New requirement that owners post and maintain the building façade status in the lobby in a manner similar to elevator certificates, to alert the building occupants of the exterior wall status.
- New requirement for close-up inspections to be performed at intervals of not more than 60’-0” fronting each public right-of-way in order to allow for more thorough inspections of the exterior wall.
- Elevated years of experience and responsibilities of the Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI) to ensure inspectors have appropriate knowledge of the exterior walls.
- New requirement that the QEWI probes whether ties are present and in good condition at cavity wall buildings in every odd cycle; some exceptions are included to the requirement of probes.
- Overall increased civil penalties; the amendment adds new civil penalty for failure to correct “Safe With a repair and maintenance program” (SWARMP) conditions to compel owners to maintain exterior walls in safe condition.