What is FISP?
The Facade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP) also known as Local Law 11 is a requirement for building owners to have regular inspections by an architect or engineer to verify the safety of exterior walls for buildings over six stories in NYC. Safety reports must be filed with the NYC DOB every five years. Any deficiencies found must be repaired.
I am Jorge Fontan an architect in NYC and owner of Fontan Architecture. In this post we will be discussing a general overview and procedure for the Facade Inspection Safety Program. This program exists to ensure that buildings in New York are safe. People killed by falling debris from unsafe building facades in New York on multiple occasions therefor this is a matter to be taken seriously.
Why are Facade Inspections Required Local Law 11
In 1979 a college student named Grace Gold was killed by a piece of terra cotta that fell from a building facade and struck her in the head. After this incident in 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 was Local Law 11/98 and is now currently referred to as FISP.
Building safety continues to be 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 as well 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 for all buildings in New York City 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 every cycle which is a five year period. There are over 16,000 buildings in NYC that qualify for FISP, and of course this number is growing every year.
What is a FISP Report?
In order to comply with the FISP requirements, and Local LAW 11, a building owner must hire an architect or engineer who is sufficiently qualified to inspect building facades and prepare a FISP Report. The FISP Report is electronically 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 ia 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).
How Long is a FISP Cycle?
A FISP Cycle is 5 Years. Currently we are in Cycle 9 which extends 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
If one does not file a FISP report, there are multiple penalties that can be incurred.
- Late Filing
- Failure to File
- Failure to Correct SWARMP Conditions
- Failure to Correct Unsafe Conditions
Building Safety and Local Law 11
Safety is important 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. Following these regulations will help prevent these issues 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 Facade 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.