Photographer and Submitter: Tom Sawyer, ENR

They may look like the rappelling SWAT team from the movie “The Blues Brothers,” but these folks weren’t stuntmen. They were completing a facade check to keep New York City denizens safe.

On a recent summer afternoon that peaked at 96° F, workers for master rigger service provider Cole NYC were snapped during their all-day inspection of the exterior of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan. Sawyer says on his usual walk home, he saw a larger than usual crowd  aiming cameras upward—and joined them.

Local Law 11 requires that facades of buildings higher than six stories that are 15 or more years old be inspected every five years to be certified safe, with any necessary repairs completed to earn that verification.

Engineers or architects typically hire master riggers like George Cole, president of Cole NYC, who also holds industrial rope access certification, to do the analysis and make urgent fixes if needed.

“I’m able to take down anything hazardous immediately, like a loose rail or loose stonework,” Cole says.