NYC FISP (Local Law 11)

Façade and Safety Inspection Program (FISP)

The New York skyline is known the world over. An eclectic landscape of the futuristic and the familiar and everything in between, all at once. Less romantic is the imperative to keep the facades that make up this skyline safe, so they don’t pose a danger to the millions of people who walk beside them every hour of every day.

In response to the tragedy in 1979 of Grace Gold, a student who died from a falling piece of terracotta, New York introduced local law 10/80, later called Local Law 11/98 requiring cyclical inspections of buildings taller than six stories. Further expansion of the program requirements and tragedies over the years eventually led to the more comprehensive Façade and Safety Inspection Program, the FISP, formerly known as Local Law 11.

What does the FISP mean for building owners?

The FISP is a five-year rolling program that imposes a legal obligation on all owners of buildings taller than six stories in New York City to retain the services of a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QWEI)* to undertake a hands-on inspection of the building’s exterior at 60 feet intervals along the facades that the public can access. This includes balconies, fire-escapes, and anything else appurtenant to the exterior walls. Results must be digitally filed by the QWEI with the DOB within three two-year filing windows, staggered by one year.

How can CANY help?

At CANY, we have worked with buildings owners for over twenty-five years, helping even the most temperamental of heritage buildings to conform to the FISP. That’s because we understand buildings, but we also understand what buildings mean to people. From the obligations and financial implications of ownership, to being a tenant, resident or walking safely on a sidewalk.

As you would expect from an architectural and engineering consultancy specializing in building enclosures, we have a team of Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QWEIs), the only people empowered to oversee the FISP inspection and file the report with the DOB. But we also have in-house teams with qualifications and capability to work with you to find creative solutions to plan how to fulfil all the FISP requirements to secure your building, manage your budget and keep our city safe. A key contributor to such planning is the use of Industrial Rope Access (IRA) a technique that CANY has employed the use of in FISP inspections more than 20 years ago. It’s a dynamic, hands-on method of inspection, more agile and cost effective than traditional rigging, that provides access for the QEWI and supporting inspection team to areas that are typically harder (and expensive) to reach.

We know that complying with the FISP is a huge part of building ownership responsibility, whether commercial, residential, or otherwise. And it’s getting tougher. With closer scrutiny, higher expectations, bigger fines, plus the genuine threat to life, non-compliance is not an option.

What could the FISP reveal?

There are three categories established by the DOB and determined by the QWEI:

  • Safe: No repair work is required during the cycle and the building will not become unsafe during the next five years.

  • Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP): Conditions suggest potential for the building to become unsafe and action must be taken within the timeframe established by the QWEI. This would be no later than the filing deadline or it will automatically be categorized as Unsafe in the next cycle if no action is taken.

  • Unsafe: conditions represent an immediate danger to the public and protection measures must be undertaken immediately, with repairs addressed within 90 days. A series of time extensions of up to 90 days each are usually granted by the DOB if the owner is genuinely working to address the issues. When an Unsafe report has been filed, the DOB usually sends an inspector to verify the extent of the conditions, confirm that adequate safety measures are in place to protect the public and assess the progress of the repairs. However, even if measures have been taken and work is progressing, a DOB violation could still be issued for “failure to maintain.” If no protection measures have been taken, the DOB may issue more severe penalties.

What’s the current time table for filing?

The FISP program is in its 10th cycle, and is scheduled as follows, with three assigned groupings determined by the last digit of a building’s block number.

What can you do?

Planning for the FISPis essential, so now is the time to talk to us at CANY to make sure any issuesthe FISP could present don’t become a problem. We can not only help you withthe actual inspection and all that entails, but also with capital planning tomap out a route to getting you and your building successfully through theprocess.


*A QualifiedExterior Wall Inspector (QWEI): A QWEI must be a New York State RegisteredArchitect (RA), or New York State licensed Professional Engineer (PE) with atleast seven years of experience.

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