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History Behind the Facade Inspection & Safety Program

March 5th, 2024 by: WRG Engineering P.C


(Image from WRG Facade inspection Project)

The Launching of FISP & Emergence of Local Law 11 

On May 16th, 1979, the death of a 17-year-old Barnard college student by the name of Grace Gold would come to shock many citizens of New York City as she had been severely hit after a piece of masonry fell from the façade of a building on the upper west side of Manhattan, or the seventh floor of the building. After this horrifying incident, the New York City Council mandated the inspection of buildings with street-facing building façades through Local Law 10 of 1980. The mayor at the time, Ed Koch, officially signed it into law on the twenty-first of February. And while action may have been taken, this law did not in fact take all the concerns of the people into account concerning a facade's threat to public safety. 

The next tragedy that would further stem the foundation for the Facade Inspection and Safety Program as well as Local Law 11 would then be in 1997 and 1998, when several exterior wall failures occurred. This modification resulted in strengthening and honing the inspection regulation and process of facades within buildings over six stories high. Under this amendment, a QEWI (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector) is to label the building by whichever of the three categories it fits into. The three categories being SafeSWARMP (Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program), or Unsafe. Overall, the major difference between Local Law 10 of 1980 and Local Law 11 of 1998 was that only front-facing facades and over twenty-five feet high walls from street-lines were meant to be inspected while all the facades within a building were required to be inspected under Local Law 11. 


The Present-Day Characteristics of FISP 

Since its establishment, the Facade Inspection and Safety Program continues to evolve and expand greatly. Buildings beyond six stories high are required to receive inspection from a QEWI (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector) who will then observe and keep a record of any hazardous predicaments within the building quinquennially. Furthermore, these inspections are systematic. Reporting, maintenance, and repair deadlines are segmented into cycles, with the addition of sub cycles by the DOB to facilitate the hiring of qualified professionals by property owners. The designation of sub-cycle A, B, or C is determined by the last digit of the building's block number. A QEWI (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector) then submits their detailed FISP report containing their findings and recommendations to their proper location through DOB NOW: Safety. Buildings labeled as Unsafe have limited time to resolve their high-risk safety conditions. As soon as they are modified and solved, a QEWI again inspects the premises to confirm. 

These regulations have made quite significant improvements and impacted the safety of civilians and buildings. When a QEWI (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector) has cautiously spotted and kept record of unsafe elements within a building, they have lowered the chances of an incident and helped to preserve the lives of many civilians of the city. While FISP comes with many advantages, there are also some cons that accompany it. For example, this may affect financial planning. While building owners must comply with the regulations of the system by distributing resources for the inspections or repairing of their property, some may choose to disregard these requirements which will then lead to many fines and punishments. 


For more information on our services regarding Facade inspections or any other inquiry, contact WRG Engineering today! :  

Call us: (212)-634-6477 



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