NYC’s Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP) mandates that owners of buildings higher than six stories must have exterior walls and appurtenances inspected every five years and a technical FISP report must be electronically filed with the Department of Buildings through DOB Now: Safety.
These FISP inspections or ‘critical examinations’ must be conducted under the direction of a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI), and must include a close-up, typically hands-on inspection of at least one street-facing façade from roof to grade. Based on the conditions noted during the inspection, the QEWI will assign the following categories:
SAFE: No repair work is required within the cycle.
Safe With A Repair And Maintenance Program (SWARMP): Conditions have the potential to become unsafe, but do not require immediate attention. Repairs should be performed within the timeframe recommended by the QEWI, but no later than the filing deadline for the subsequent inspection cycle.
UNSAFE: Conditions represent an immediate danger to the public and must be immediately addressed. The Owner must immediately commence repairs or reinforcement, and install a sidewalk shed or other measures to secure public safety.
Buildings higher than 6 stories with Block Numbers ending in 0, 7, or 9 are required to have their inspections completed and their FISP Sub-cycle 9B reports electronically submitted to the NYC Department of Buildings between February 21, 2021, and February 21, 2023.
Additionally, if the Cycle 8B report identified SWARMP conditions, these will default to Unsafe conditions if not addressed prior to Cycle 9B filing, resulting in further penalties and fees.
Buildings higher than 6 stories with Block Numbers ending in 1, 2, or 3 are required to have their inspections completed and their FISP Sub-cycle 9B reports electronically submitted to the NYC Department of Buildings between February 21, 2022, and February 21, 2024.
Additionally, if the Cycle 8C report identified SWARMP conditions, these will default to Unsafe conditions if not addressed prior to Cycle 9C filing, resulting in further penalties and fees.
With the introduction of FISP Cycle 9, the New York City Façade Inspection and Safety Program has been amended to require a more comprehensive examination of façade conditions. Understanding the scope of these changes is essential for proper and cost-effective compliance.
Rule changes can be summarized under three categories:
Experience: Inspections must be conducted under the direction of a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI), who now needs seven years of relevant experience to qualify. Supplemental Inspectors, depending on their educational background, now need to demonstrate three to five years of relevant experience.
These increased requirements, while ensuring a proper standard of care, effectively limit the pool of design professionals and technicians qualified to perform this work. With multiple certified QEWIs and a wealth of qualified technical staff, CANY’s highly experienced team is ready to plan and perform the FISP inspections required at any FISP property.
Planning & Execution: The amended FISP Rules mandate additional documentation and increase the requirements for hands-on inspection. The scope has been expanded in critical areas, notably:
A targeted and efficient approach to these changes in FISP requirements will depend upon review of previous repair campaigns, proper initial assessment of the building enclosure, deliberate planning of the inspection scope and the methods of access, and informed coordination of any required probe work and/or non-destructive testing.
Ownership Impact: The amended rule includes increased penalties for failure-to-file and late filing. In addition, fines are imposed for the continued presence of a protective sidewalk shed. (For example, a 100 linear foot sidewalk shed in year-five would accrue an annual penalty of $60,000.00.) Perhaps of greater impact, under the amended Rule a conditions certificate issued by the DOB must be posted in the lobby or vestibule of the building. In a manner similar to a restaurant-grade imposed by the NYC Health Department, the certificate will indicate the most current condition of the building’s façade filing (Safe, SWARMP, or Unsafe). Achieving a Safe building enclosure may become elemental in attracting and retaining owners and tenants.
As noted, NYC FISP Cycle 9 amendments require reporting of underlying conditions and prohibit further or repeated repair of façade elements repaired in previous cycles. Given these changes and ever-increasing DOB scrutiny, applying “band-aids” to the façade will no longer constitute an acceptable, safe, or fiscally responsible strategy. Avoiding repeated disruption, expenditure, and liability by implementing long-term, holistic plans for façade inspection, repair and maintenance is clearly the smart choice.
For a full analysis on the NYC FISP Cycle 9 requirements see our White Paper - Cycle 9: An Elevated Standard
CANY can perform your required NYC FISP Cycle 9 inspection, file the associated documentation, develop and execute a repair program for your outstanding Cycle 8A SWARMP and/or unsafe conditions, and assist with budgeting and phasing of future FISP-related repairs and maintenance for the long-term continuous safety of your building(s).
The CANY service is direct, hands-on, and highly responsive. We develop realistic solutions to complex problems by bringing a wealth of experience to each project. Our staff consists of licensed Architects, Engineers, Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWI), and qualified Supplemental Inspectors.
CANY has employed Industrial Rope Access almost exclusively as a means of performing façade investigations and inspections. In 2019, CANY boasts a SPRAT-certified rope access team of 14 highly-trained technicians who can identify problematic and potentially unsafe conditions and make appropriate repair recommendations.
By using rope access to rappel down the sides of buildings, we can achieve quick, hands-on access to structures, avoiding the expensive and time-consuming mobilization of conventional suspended scaffolding.