Department of Buildings Gets Serious about Safety
The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) Cycle 9 FISP (Facade Inspection and Safety Program) rules include an amendment involved that went into effect on February 20. To keep buildings safe for everyone, all properties that have more than six stories must have their exterior walls and fixed exterior additions inspected every five years, and these properties’ owners must file technical facade reports with DOB. Any dangerous conditions discovered during this process must be repaired within 90 days of the filings, and once the necessary repairs are complete, the property owners must file amended reports within two weeks of that completion.
Having the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the changes made can help you better understand what is at issue.
What Is the Amendment All About?
The crux of the amendment is about ensuring that all Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWIs) have all relevant experience necessary to do their jobs effectively, ensuring that inspections are thorough, and increasing penalties for failure to comply. New qualifications went into place on February 20, 2021, that require all QEWIs to meet newly amended requirements, which are intended to help ensure our city’s buildings remain compliant with important safety standards. Those who already qualify as QEWIs are relieved of all relevant experience requirements and of taking any amendment-related tests.
What about Recently Completed Facade Inspections?
Those facade inspections that were timely filed prior to the date of the amendment’s application (February 2021) do not need to be reinspected.
Can Inspections Be Subcontracted and Still Be Compliant?
While the inspections themselves can be conducted by someone other than a QEWI, a QEWI must put the final seal of approval on it.
Poorly Maintained Facades Can Harm Pedestrians
FISP began in 1980 in response to a Barnard student who was fatally injured by falling masonry on a Broadway sidewalk. Despite regular inspection, falling debris from the facades of buildings continues to harm – and even kill – pedestrians. 2020 saw some serious facade accidents, which prompted DOB to issue the changes at hand. Increased penalties have been implemented to give the requirements more bite, including:
- The failure to file penalty was raised from $1,000 to $5,000 – with a late-filing fee of $1,000 a month.
- A $1,000 a month fee is now charged for failure to address an unsafe condition.
- There is a new $2,000 civil penalty that will be levied against those property owners who fail to address conditions that are related to a Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program finding by the next cycle.
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