FISP Questions & Answers

October 7, 2020

As you navigate the needs of your building, we are here to help answer any FISP questions you might have. If you don’t see the information you are looking for, let us know!

Which Buildings must be filed?

The requirements for filing façade inspection reports applies to all buildings with exterior walls or parts thereof that are greater than six stories in height, including the basement (floor level with at least half of its floor-to-ceiling height above the street level) regardless of the information in the Certificate of Occupancy. The Commissioner shall determine which additional buildings are required to file in accordance with this rule.

When do new Buildings have to be filed?

Once a new building is issued the first Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, the 5 year “grace period” begins. After this 5 year period is over, the building must file during next applicable cycle. If the 5 year period ends before or during the building’s corresponding window, the building must file during that cycle. If the 5 year period falls after the filing window has closed, the building does not have to file until the next cycle.

Which Exterior Walls are affected?

All exterior walls must be visually inspected with the exception of walls which are less than twelve inches from the exterior wall of an adjacent building.

What does a typical FISP inspection involve?

In addition to visual inspections of the building, close-up inspections of the street façade(s) from scaffolding are performed. Roofs, terraces, and balconies are reviewed. All of the Building’s appurtenances are examined – such as canopies, antennae, satellite dishes, air conditioners, and fire escapes.

How long after the FISP inspection does the report have to be filed?

Façade inspection reports must be filed no later than 60 days after the QEWI conducts the final inspection and no later than one year after the close up inspection. Building owners need to promptly approve the provided draft, login to the DOB NOW, and sign the report for timely filing with the DOB to avoid the need for re-inspection.

Who files the FISP report and what are the different classifications used?

FISP inspection reports must be filed every five years by a Registered Architect (RA) or Professional Engineer (PE) who has been determined by the Department of Buildings (DOB) to be a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector. This means that the DOB has determined that the professional has enough relevant experience to make a correct assessment of the conditions of a building. The condition of the Building is classified as SafeSafe with Repair and Maintenance Items (SWARMP), or Unsafe. A Safe building needs no further action, a building that is Safe With Repair And Maintenance (SWARMP) has conditions that must be repaired between one year and five years following the time frame listed by the Engineer or Architect in the report, and an Unsafe building has conditions that must be repaired immediately or within one year and must provide immediate protection of the public and be repaired within 30 days.

What are examples of unsafe exterior conditions?

Any item that jeopardizes safety of pedestrians below is an unsafe condition. Examples include loose brickwork, mortar, or concrete; leaning parapet walls, cracked or broken windows, cracked or fractured terracotta, loose metal, improperly secured window-mounted air conditioners and any loose material, such as wood, bricks, debris, planters and the like. If a Building has not completed its SWARMP repairs from the previous cycle in the timeframe allotted, the building is considered to be Unsafe, regardless of the severity of the conditions. The law requires that unsafe conditions be addressed immediately, within a 30-day time frame and subsequently an amended report filed with the DOB to confirm the conditions have been addressed. An extension may be given for the unsafe conditions to be corrected if needed.

Are there building materials that the DOB is specifically concerned with?

Currently, the Department of Buildings is scrutinizing terra cotta, as there have been several failures of deteriorated units and previous repairs. Additionally, cavity wall assembly is being carefully reviewed as cavity wall tie backs have been found to be deteriorated and, in some instances, completely missing. Additionally, in new buildings, there have been instances of spontaneous glass breakage due to nickle sulfide inclusions in tempered glass. Any of these types of building assemblies may require further investigation to provide the Buildings Department with information to prove the building is Safe.

What’s the difference between an Amended Report and a Subsequent Report?

An Amended Report changes the status of a previously filed Unsafe Report to SWARMP or Safe. A Subsequent Report changes the status of a previously filed SWARMP report to Safe. A Building’s classification cannot remain unsafe until the next cycle, therefore an Amended Report must be filed after the repairs have been completed. A Subsequent Report is optional but can only be filed during the current open cycle. A Subsequent Safe report cannot be filed after the next filing cycle opens. An Amended Report can be filed at any time, regardless of the timeframe.

Is our building required to file if the Certificate of Occupancy says it is six stories plus cellar?

The Owner is required to have the Department of Buildings inspect the property and determine whether the building is exempt or required to file a FISP report. This determination is based upon the actual height of the building and whether it is six stories with a cellar or basement. A cellar does not count as a story since more than half its height is below ground level. On the other hand, a basement counts as a story because more than half its wall height is above ground. In summary, no matter what is stated on the Certificate of Occupancy a six story building with basement is considered 7 stories and thereby is required to comply with filing a FISP Report. An Owner can request a Height Verification Request through the DOB NOW: Safety website.

When is a window-mounted air conditioners considered properly installed?

The improper mounting of window air conditioners is one of the items causing the DOB to reject Reports filed as “Safe” due to the fact that such air conditioners constitute a potential hazard. Window air conditioners should be securely attached from the exterior and/or interior side of the Building. It is at the discretion of the QEWI performing the inspection to decide whether such an air conditioner constitutes a potential hazard. Certainly, an air conditioner with blocks or bricks wedged in between the unit and the windowsill will be classified as an unsafe condition by the DOB, as will an air conditioner that appears unstable. Based on this however, it is difficult for a QEWI to determine the safety of window-mounted air conditioners unless checking every single unit from inside of the apartments. This though is not feasible in large Buildings due to the number of apartments and where location of the a/c units changes frequently. Therefore, until such time as the DOB issues more specific regulations, it is recommended that building owners/managers implement a policy of installing secure support brackets for window air conditioners by a qualified contractor.

Are there any fees for filing reports?

The report shall be submitted to the Department along with a filing fee as specified in the rules of the Department of Buildings. See filing fees and penalties listed above.

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