In 1980, after a piece of masonry fell from a building and killed a passerby, New York City passed Local Law 10/80, requiring periodic inspection of building façades and exteriors for all buildings taller than six stories. This law evolved into Local Law 11/98, and eventually became the Facade Inspection Safety Program, or "FISP" (1-RCNY 103.04), that is in effect today. In 2018, more than 2,635 buildings were inspected in New York City. Of this group, close to 20% were deemed unsafe either due to an existing hazard or considered technically unsafe due to a failure to repair lesser conditions noted in a previous inspection. A full 44% of the properties inspected — almost 1,200 buildings — were cited as "Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program" (conditionally safe provided necessary repairs were completed).
FISP requires that all qualifying buildings engage a licensed and registered Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI) to examine the building façade, with a minimum of one hands-on inspection drop per representative area. The QEWI then prepares a report on the condition of the façade which is reviewed and acknowledged by the Owner and filed with the New York City Department of Buildings. These reports are, to an extent, available to the public online. FISP also stipulates that unsafe conditions must be promptly reported to the Department, and that Owners have 90 days to correct deficiencies or file extensions demonstrating progress in so-doing.
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