What Does Every Inspector Need to Know
One of the greatest tasks a senior inspector can do, is to mentor a new inspector in the business. Lets face it, we were all new at one point, and literally had no clue what “THE CODE” was. Some inspectors are hired and have no other existing internal staff to help them along or there is no overlap of new and old inspectors to ensure a proper transition.
As a new inspectors what is the number one thing you need to know? I am not sure I can get the list down to one:
- The code is not black and white! The code is considered a prescriptive code and our worlds that we work in are changing daily. Lets be realistic, a blocked exit is a blocked exit and the code handles that. What happens when new technology emerges that is not address by the code?
- Yes you can write the code! The code is not developed in some vacuum in ICC or NFPA land. Once you get your feet on the ground take time to understand the code process for both the NFPA and ICC. Stay involved and comment on current code changes. This will keep you on top of your game and aware of the changes. Think of it this way, when a code is published (take the 2012 IBC), it is already a three year old document!
- Build relationships! It may sound simple but this takes time. I owe a lot of my career to inspectors who took the time to help and mentor me. I replaced a Fire Marshal who left and there were many unanswered questions including “What is the code?” Working with neighboring departments and joining associations is a great way to build up your skill set and have a network to fall back on.
- Know the Code and know how to search the code! There are days when you just have to find a quite place and work to understand the code requirements on an issue. Lets take an issue a small item such as egress. You can find yourself in circles trying to make sure you are enforcing the correct provisions. Take time to understand the definitions, and the sections that you are dealing in. Many times I will create a code path on a pad of paper so I can later verify my findings.
- Go to Training. Training keeps you current, allows for you to build your credentials and relationships. This job is complicated, ever-changing, and requires our sharpest minds. Attend training programs and stay involved in the program. When you go to the training program, go with the mindset that you will be teaching that program in the future. Lets face it when you are out doing inspections, we spend alot of our time teaching the occupants and contractors.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was beating my head on the desk trying to understand the “intent” of the code. The job of an inspector is intense although has many great results as we all work to protect our communities.
What is your number one item for all new inspectors? Let me guess subscribe to our email list?