What is FISP?
The Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP), formerly known as Local Law 11, is a requirement for buildings to have regular inspections to verify the safety of the exterior walls for buildings over six stories in NYC. Safety reports are filed with the NYC DOB every five years. The building owner is responsible for repairing any deficiencies found.
The inspection is performed by a QEWI, which means Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector. One must be an architect or engineer to obtain this qualification. The QEWI is the only person who can submit a FISP report.
I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in NYC and owner of Fontan Architecture. In this post, we will discuss a general overview of the Façade Inspection Safety Program procedure. This program exists to ensure that buildings in New York are safe. On multiple occasions, people have been killed by falling debris from unsafe building facades in New York. Therefore, this is a matter to take seriously.
Why are Façade Inspections Required by Local Law 11
In 1979 a college student named Grace Gold was killed by a piece of terra cotta that fell from a building façade and struck her head. After this incident, Mayor Ed Koch enacted Local Law 10/80.
In 1997 a large section of brick wall collapsed on Madison Avenue, which motivated the City of New York to create new and more thorough requirements, which became Local Law 11/98 and is currently referred to as FISP.
Building safety continues to be a problem in NYC. In 2015 Greta Greene, a 2-year-old, was killed by falling debris. In 2019 Erica Tishman was killed by falling debris in New York City. In the case of Tishman, criminal charges were brought against the building owner.
What Buildings are Subject to Local Law 11 FISP Inspections in NYC?
FISP requires the inspection of exterior walls and appurtenances of all New York City buildings over six stories.
What is meant by buildings over six stories? In the context of FISP, any building over six stories on any elevation counts. If it is six stories on one side and more on the other, that counts. If it is six stories on one side plus a basement, that also counts. This designation is regardless of what is written on the Certificate of Occupancy.
All qualifying buildings require a FISP Report for every FISP Cycle. The FISP Cycles are five years. There are over 16,000 buildings in NYC that qualify for FISP; of course, this number is growing yearly.
What is a FISP Report?
To comply with the FISP requirements and Local LAW 11, a building owner must hire a QEWI, an architect or engineer sufficiently qualified to inspect building facades and prepare a FISP Report. The FISP Report is filed with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) on the DOB NOW website.
The FISP report will provide one of three categories as a result of the inspection:
- SWARMP (Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program)
If you want to read more on the subject, we have another post discussing the Architect’s Role in Local Law 11.
Who Files a FISP Report?
In NYC, a FISP Report is filed by a licensed architect or professional engineer who is certified as a “QEWI”. A QEWI is a a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector. This requirement is outlined in the Rules of the City of New York, RCNY 101-07
“Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector. A registered design professional with at least seven years of relevant experience with facades over six stories.”
In the Definition for QEWI, the term “Registered Design Profession means a Registered Architect (Licensed Architect) or Professional Engineer (Licensed Engineer). The New York City Department of Buildings verifies an architect or engineer’s qualification to become a QEWI.
How Long is a FISP Cycle?
A FISP Cycle is 5 Years. We are currently in FISP Cycle 9, extending from 2020 to 2025. Reports must be filed for all qualifying buildings in every cycle.
If a SWARMP condition is discovered in a given cycle and not resolved within the cycle, it is upgraded to Unsafe in the following cycle.
Penalties For Not Filling
Multiple penalties can be incurred if one does not file a FISP report.
- Late Filing
- Failure to File
- Failure to Correct SWARMP Conditions
- Failure to Correct Unsafe Conditions
Building Safety and Local Law 11
Safety is vital in existing buildings because people have been killed due to unsafe conditions. The Department of Buildings regulations are designed to prevent future accidents and ensure public safety for everyone in New York City. Following these regulations will help prevent unsafe conditions from reoccurring and create a safer city.
If you do not comply with all regulations, penalties, fines, and violations can be placed on the property and owner. It is best to avoid this and be ahead of the game by fulfilling all the requirements as soon as possible.
Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on the NYC Local Law 11/98 and the Façade Inspection Safety Program.
I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect about a potential project, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.