So you start a new business and it is very successful or maybe you are a doctor and have a successful practice. When did they ever teach you about the fire code or the requirements found in the building code that affect your office, plant, or warehouse? That wasn’t included in the MBA, PhD, or even the building management courses?
Sometimes as inspectors we have to interact with the owner or occupant of the building who’s background is not in construction. That means our terminology, requirements, and resources may not work well. It was explained to me (as a little inspector) that people learn about the fire code the same way they learn about the motor vehicle code (how do you know what speeding is). By a police officer typically telling them they broke the law with a ticket.
This is similar in the administration of building and fire codes. Contractors, owners, design professionals are not well versed in the code. They learn as communities enforce the code and “catch” them doing work in violation of the code. As it relates to code enforcement of our adopted codes it is an option for many of us to issue tickets (although it is a last resort). Our attempts are typically through education of the owner on what the hazards are as a building owner or occupant. That means one way to gain compliance is through education of the public. Studies have shown that adults retain and learn information better through self realization.
I have seen inspectors many times ask the occupant how do you get out of this space if there was a fire? This question is compounded because there was a pad lock on a marked exit. The occupant responded with hold on one minute and I will go and get the key. The bright light came on and the lock was never seen again. This is one method in attempting to gain compliance. As an inspector we must look for ways to motivate people and look to gain compliance in many different ways. The best way is to have the occupant become our eyes and ears on code issues and fix them as they come up (accomplished typically be education).
Video from Plano Texas on building inspection