The Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), previously known as Local Law 11, requires owners of buildings six stories and up to schedule an inspection of the exterior walls and appurtenances by a New York State licensed architect or engineer every five years. Depending on the building’s level of deterioration, a building owner may be required to coordinate a second inspection so that the architect or engineer may verify the progress of corrective measures.
Now that you understand what FISP is, perhaps you’re wondering why it exists. Unfortunately, most building code is written because of an unfortunate event. In the case of FISP, this is also true. In 1980, a pedestrian was killed when a piece of masonry fell from the facade of a building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In order to prevent similar tragedies from occurring, New York City Council amended the building code to provide for periodic inspections of street facades and appurtenances. Later, in 1997 and 1998, there were several more exterior wall failures in New York City. As a result, the city passed New York City Local Law 11 of 1998, which required inspections and maintenance of the façades of buildings greater than six stories in height.
Owners of such buildings are required to have a Registered Architect or Professional Engineer, known as a “qualified exterior wall inspector,” to perform a visual and close-up inspection of the entire building envelope, including side and rear facing walls. This inspection also includes the examination fire escapes, railings, parapets and roof. Appurtenances such as air conditioners, canopies, satellite dishes, and antennae are also subject to inspection.
After the inspection, the qualified exterior wall inspector will prepare the drawings and file with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Buildings may be classified as safe, safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP), or unsafe. A building classified as SWARMP, must be repaired in a timely fashion, while an unsafe building is dangerous and requires immediate attention.
Unsafe conditions may include items such as loose bricks, cracked windows, leaning walls, or improperly secured air conditioners, as well as other conditions which may be dangerous to pedestrians below. Unsafe conditions must be dealt with immediately, within a 30-day period, and an amended report must be filed confirming the repairs. Extensions of up to 90 days may be granted if necessary.
Regular facade inspections help identify potential problems such as water infiltration and heat loss for tenants and keeps people safe on the street below. For more information, please contact us.