NYC FISP Evolution
Local Law 10/80
In 1979, a Barnard College student was killed by a piece of terra-cotta cornice that fell from an apartment building on the Upper West Side. From that incident, New York City Local Law 10 of 1980 (LL10/80) was enacted. LL10/80 required owners of buildings greater than six stories to engage a licensed professional to perform an inspection of the street façade and up to 25 feet back from pedestrian access. Technical reports were filed with the NYC DOB over a two-year cycle every five years, with the first cycle beginning February 21, 1980.
Under LL10/80, buildings could be filed under four categories: Safe, Unsafe, Ongoing Maintenance, and Precautionary. Precautionary referred to the identification of deficiencies that required annual monitoring, and could be carried over on LL10/80 reports from cycle to cycle if the conditions appeared stable. Ongoing Maintenance was utilized for buildings that were undergoing repairs in a phased manner over a long period of time. All inspections could be performed using visual aids, such as binoculars.
Local Law 11/98
After four cycles of LL10/80, in 1998, there were several instances of masonry falling from buildings onto NYC sidewalks. As a result, a more stringent law was passed. Local Law 11 of 1998 (LL11/98) included inspection of all façades on buildings greater than six stories, not just the street-facing wall. Visual inspections using a telephoto lens or binoculars were acceptable, but at least one complete close-up inspection of a street façade from roof to ground level was required, in most cases, necessitating the use of a scaffold.
LL11/98 also changed the categories for filing. The Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector had to designate a building as Safe, Unsafe, or Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP). All SWARMP conditions had to be cured prior to the next cycle filing; otherwise, they were automatically considered Unsafe. LL11/98 remained in place for Cycles 5 and 6. All inspections and filings occurred within a two-year period from the start of each cycle.
From Cycle 7 onwards, the law became known as FISP (Façade Inspection Safety Program). Inspections and filing are now staggered over a four-year period in three sub-cycles. The sub-cycle a building falls under depends on the last digit of its Block Number. Filing must occur within 60 days of inspection. Similar to LL11, at least one hands-on inspection from street level to roof must occur on a street façade, and all façades are inspected unless 12 inches or less distance from an adjacent wall.
Cycle 7 Supplemental FISP Inspections
As a result of a fatal accident in 2014, supplemental inspections of balcony railings and fire escapes were required for Cycle 7. Balcony railings and connections had to be inspected even if a report for Cycle 7 has already been filed. A separate amended filing attesting to the condition of the railings had to be filed within Cycle 7. If not, the DOB considers that the FISP report has not been filed.