On May 28, ICRI Metro-NY presented a virtual meeting on “Local Law 11/FISP- Navigating the Changes and What it Means for You,” postponed from its original March 11 date.
Yegal Shamash, PE, assistant commissioner for investigative engineering services with the NYC DOB, offered frank insights into the intent and purpose behind the various revisions that took effect on February 20, 2020.
ICRI chapter president Dennis Orozco of HD Supply Construction & Industrial moderated a panel discussion and a Q & A featuring George Cole, CEO, Cole NYC; Jason Coleman, PE, director of restoration/project executive, O’Donnell & Naccarato Structural Engineers; and Tina Tapinekis, senior partner, Surface Design Group.
Each aspect of the revisions is geared toward, said Shamash, “enhancing public safety of the City of New York.”
He noted that the NRF (No Report Filed) population is the DOB’s greatest concern since “We have zero information on these buildings.” The Amnesty period beginning July 1 for all who failed to file a report during Cycle 8 (see page 7), though originally slated to run through August, was updated in May to note that it may be extended at the discretion of the Department.
Some of the presentation’s key takeaways were:
QEWIs must provide photographic evidence – which can include ‘selfies’ – that they personally conducted and/or supervised the inspections. This is needed to ensure against fraudulent reports. In addition to the increased requirements to qualify as a QEWI, they have greater responsibilities: To maintain inspection records for at least six years; to make field notes, photos, records, and research; and to maintain insurance coverage. Persons approved previously as QEWIs are grandfathered in.
There is an increased emphasis on hands-on inspections. Regarding the use of technology such as drones, Shamash pointed out that it cannot replace hands-on inspections. Similarly, Coleman noted, “We push the envelope and try to be more creative – also more competitive. Drones have advantages… [But they] can’t be a substitute for close-up inspections.”
Mapping is now required to indicate exactly where Unsafe or SWARMP conditions are located.
Repairs must correct underlying conditions – the DOB will not accept repeated fixes that fail to address root causes.
Public protection must remain in place until an amended report is accepted – not just submitted.
To determine if a building is, in Shamash’s words, part of “the FISP universe” and subject to Local Law 11, the building must be above six stories. Since a basement is defined as a lower floor that is over 50% above ground (as opposed to a cellar which is mostly below ground) a six-story building with a basement is considered a FISP building.
The DOB’s focus is on progress. Even if repairs have not begun, the Department may grant extensions, which are made within 90-day intervals, if there is evidence that, for example, capital is being raised, bids are being gathered, and/or the GC is mobilizing.
Terra cotta is, said Shamash, the number one failing element found on sidewalk sheds and is therefore of great concern. Responding to a participant question on repair vs. replacement, he said that at times repair may suffice however “there is a line in the sand. We need to know there is engineering behind the repair.”