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Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233

I was an electrical contractor in my own business for 15 years. I have been doing electrical wok since 1975. I am now an AHJ and I have to inspect your work, Believe me I am on your side. However if/when I fail some one for doing something wrong ( And I can quote you a NEC code section rule) I don't want to hear the excuse, "Well I have been doing it this way for 20 years!" I believe that I have an advantage over some AHJ's because I know a lot of the triacks of the trade. I know how to by pass safety features of an install to make breakers fit in a service panel, ( My old boss taught me those old tricks) and I know how to get past an inspection when things aren't always right. I tried to get away with all those excuses when I was a contractor. Howevr some of our "Senior" contractors always complain to me if I fail them for something, and they get back to me saying that, "They have been doing it this way for 20 years." I politely tell them that the code changes every all the time and that we have to keep up with the new codes. They don't always want to hear that one.

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Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,044
Tom Offline

I can sympathize with you. I've gotten a whole new perspective about this business when I started doing inspections part time about 4 years ago.

There are things that I really hate to hear, one of them being "When did they change that." Hard not to give a smart mouth reply.

I guess there isn't much you can tell these guys other then they have been doing it wrong for 20 years. Their 20 year arguement is really weak anyhow. After all, you're the one that will be signing off on the installation saying, more or less, that it is safe.

We have an interesting situation here in the Mountain State. As an inspector, I am required to take continuing education classes. There is no such requirement for electricians, 40% of which have been grandfathered in & never even took any type of exam.So I guess I have to know the latest code requirements, but the person doing the installation doesn't.

Ahhh, well, Merry Christmas.


Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,374
Good topic. I can't help but think that I get a bit more than my fair share of this speech as as a 25 year old inspector.

I try to discuss changes in technology and changes in the code when I get this fight, and some listen and some don't.

Ryan Jackson,
Salt Lake City
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 751
I have always found that 50% of an inspector's job is education. 30% for the inspector and 20% from the inspector. Some inspectors here in Connecticut will even hold after hours classes for their contractors to present common code subjects. I have been known to supply lists of common code violations with the applications. My current job is 100% education for both inspectors and contractors. I love it!

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233

Here in NJ the contractors have to get 34 hours of CEU's every 3 years and as an AHJ I need both the 34 hours and I need five 5 hour courses every three years to keep my inspectors license. I just heard that as an AHJ I can "shelve" my license by not taking the 34 hour course, but then I wouldn't be doing any contracting anymore. I already turned in my business permit because I am a full time AHJ and I don't want to keep all the bond and insurence to run a small part time contracting business. Also in my original post, I really do respect the old timers who have been in the business for 20 years because I was in my own for 15 and I know how tough it is to get out there every day, make a living and a profit. It ain't easy anymore.

Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 681
Hello Rayan, Harold and Earl
Happy Holiday and I hope you are all ready for the New Year!!!

This is a subject that I feel very very strongly about. Education in our industry for open shops and continuing education for journeymen is pretty much a very minor event in NY.
I have a small training center in lower NY, of which I draw students from NJ, Conn. and NYC. They all have one thing in common. There are too few if any places for electrical education that is relatively close to home - travel becomes a large part of why they receive little to no education.
I will also say that paying for the classes is not as much of an issue as I originally thought, time is the big issue. These guys will plunk down the cash, but find it very difficult to come to a class that has more than two running weeks.
Once they are in the classes, they are usually very happy they have come and they will repeat with other classes.

The real problem I can see is the lack of understanding WHY they do what they do. Most of the guys are very good at the installation, but you ask them why and the 'deer in the headlights' look prevails through the class.

In our area there are no requirements for education (other than apprentices in the Union), these men/women can be in the industry for 30 years and never open a book.WOW!!!
Most people in our industry came to work right out of highshool, they do not read as well as they could. They pick up the code book and do not understand it too well, so they stop reading it.

One of the biggest problems that brings all of this to a skidding halt is what happens at inspections. From one area to another, they do not know what to expect from each inspector, so instead of learning the code, they learn about the different ways the different inspectors inspect.
Adding all of this together and it is a mess.
But... I believe with an overall effort it can be worked out.

I now have a class that has been running every week for eight weeks - with five of the local inspectors. The class was supposed to be for five weeks, but now will run until the last week of june(requested by all of the inspectors), not one of them is paid for the class time,and we are doing this from 5pm to 9pm. These inspectors are all doing their homework and are learning a lot. They were a little embarassed at first, but now we are on a run and it is actually a lot of fun. The four hour classes fly by and I surprise test them every once and awhile. Their grades have dramatically improved and there is one very important issue that is slowly being resolved.... they are all starting to get on the same page and it shows in the field inspections. You should hear some of our discussions [Linked Image]

I have one long term goal - helping to make our industry as great as it possibly can be, education is the answer.
BTW- I am the only place they can get classes in a 75 mile radius, other than the union hall and Boces. UNBELIEVEABLE!!!


Pierre Belarge
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 751

God bless you! Tell your inspectors that Connecticut has an education program for free. Call 860.685.8330 to get a copy of our Career Development Syllabus. Three hour classes from 9-12 AM or 6:30-9:30 PM, various places throughout CT.

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,291
You know, you can also drive 90mph for quite a while, but you'll eventually be stopped by law enforcement.
"We always do it that way" (the wrong way) is no better an excuse for electrical violations than it is for speeding...doesn't make it right, or safe...Tell it to the judge.
I hear this all the time...S

[This message has been edited by electure (edited 12-28-2003).]

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
some of you inspectors here should try and forward your code concerns without a shred of enforcability.... take it from me, it'll fine tune any tact you may think is already primo...


Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
Sparky I read all your posts and if I understand half of them I am doing well. [Linked Image]

Is there a 2002 Sparky Handbook that will clarify what you are trying to say. [Linked Image]

I guess you will have to dumb it down for me, I am bad with innuendo.

Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
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