New DOB Clarification to Balcony Inspection Requirements

By: Brian Sullivan

Over the past few months the NYC DOB FISP (Facade Inspection Safety Program) Division has issued several industry updates and has held two information sessions for professionals specializing in FISP (formerly Local Law 11/98) inspections, The intent of these updates and information sessions was to clarify the requirements for inspecting balconies and railings during the cyclical FISP (Local Law 11/98) inspection. For simplification purposes, the term “balconies” includes terraces, walkways, corridors, fire escapes, roofs, setbacks, etc.)

These clarifications and requirements appear to be a direct result of recent injuries and two tragic fatalities resulting from balcony/railing failures.In 2010, Connor Donohue fell 24 floors to his death from a building located on 39th Street in Manhattan. Jennifer Rosoff also tragically plunged 17 floors to her death from her East 57th Street apartment balcony this last August. Both these tragedies appear to be the result of faulty or dilapidated balcony railings. As a result, the DOB wants to ensure that all balconies were properly inspected during the recently completed 7th cycle inspections. Additionally, the DOB would like to keep track of the total number of balconies in New York City, and their condition.

As a result; all building owners whose buildings qualify for FISP inspections are being asked to ensure that their buildings were properly inspected with respect to the balconies. In addition to the clarifications issued to the professional inspectors, notifications were issued by the NYC DOB to these respective building owners instructing them to verify that the proper inspections were performed.

The following is a summary of the intent of the clarifications:

  • The NYC DOB FISP division is asking all Building Owners to review the 7th cycle report filed for their respective buildings. Additionally, all QEWI’s (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector’s) are being asked to review all reports that they filed during the 7th cycle to determine if any follow-up is required.
  • If the building does not contain any balconies nothing additional is required at this time
  • If the building contains balconies and the QEWI that performed the 7th cycle report feels that the initial inspection was sufficient with respect to the recent clarifications or if a follow-up inspection is performed and the building status doesn’t change then a supplemental report must be filed, The supplemental report is simply a signed and sealed affidavit identifying  the total number of balconies at the building, number of balconies inspected and the location of the balconies inspected.
  • If the findings of a follow-up inspection result in a downgrade the building’s status (i.e. “Safe” to “SWARMP” or “SWARMP” to “Unsafe” then a Subsequent report must be filed which includes a TR6 form that must be signed by the Owner

For cycle 7, these balcony statements can be prepared by the QEWI that prepared the accepted cycle 7 inspection, a separate QEWI that inspected the balconies only, a DOB approved special inspector or a qualified, DOB approved testing lab. The due date for these statements is February 1, 2015.

Going forward, beginning with cycle 8, these balcony inspections and statements will be incorporated into the cyclical report. As a reminder, cycle 8 begins February 21, 2015.

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