A person employed to inspect something
Why is it that the term “Inspector” is not defined in many of our code books? Even Wikipedia does not define the term Inspector based on how we utilize them in code enforcement.
Here in the United States there are many names for those responsible for enforcing an adopted code. Previous posts have talked about the administration of the code and the need for inspectors to be problem solvers, but we never truly defined what an inspector is. I have gone to Webster and they indicated that an inspector is “a person employed to inspect something.” This definition would apply to most of us in the code world but it doesn’t leave a lot of power to our duties.
I continued into looking at definitions (like a good code guy would do) and looked up the term Inspect. It is defined as “to view closely in critical appraisal, look over to examine officially.” This definition puts in line what the duties of an inspector is based on the International Codes or NFPA. We utilize the term inspector as a general and common name compared to what is in our adopted codes.
If we look at the term code official or deputies in the ICC administrative provisions or AHJ in NFPA 1. The formal duties of an inspector or code official can typically be found in the administrative provisions of the adopted code. If you look at the International Mechanical Code (2009 edition) as listed below you can see the formal potion that is created by the International Codes:
103.2 Appointment The code official shall be appointed by the chief appointing authority of the jurisdiction.
103.3 Deputies In accordance with the prescribed procedures of this jurisdiction and with the concurrence of the appointing authority, the code official shall have the authority to appoint a deputy code official, other related technical officers, inspectors and other employees. Such employees shall have powers as delegated by the code official.
Compare the above section from the I-codes to the NFPA definition of the AHJ. AHJ is defined as Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). NFPA administrative provisions define it as ; an organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure.”
This formal role listed for inspector comes from the adopted code. This doesn’t necessarily describe the technical duties of an inspector. Section 104.1 of the IMC Gives the Duties of the code official which are to enforce the provisions of the code.
This is similar in the NFPA 1, which gives the governing body the requirement to create an AHJ and then the document outlines the responsibilities of the AHJ
There is an informal role that the inspector plays in many communities as thier code expert. These informal roles greatly expand the position of the AHJ or code official into what our communities expect. It doesn’t matter if we call the positon, Fire Marshal, Electrical Inspector, Code Official, the role is to ensure the safety of our community by meeting the adopted codes which they are charged with enforcing!
What is an inspector to you?