Safety is Our Main Concern

During IAEI’s 75th Anniversary, the Diamond Jubilee, two electrical industry leaders, Jack Wells, Pass & Seymour/Legrande, and Jim Pauley, Square D/Schneider Electric, presented a glimpse of what we might expect in the future. One part that stuck with me was that the electrical inspector would be looked upon with great favor by school children, so much so that they would be gathering around the Electrical Inspector’s vehicle instead of a big red fire truck. Sounded pretty far-fetched. It was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek item, but why not? Why can’t electrical inspectors be thought of as heroes? After all, safety is our main concern. Should not the person that spends his or her career doing a job that insures that our electrical systems are safe from fire and shock hazards where we work, play, and live be held in high esteem? Well, sure we should! But to command that honor, we must prepare and work for it.

A quarterback for a football team doesn’t just run onto the field and have a great game. He must learn the rules, study the playbook, and practice many hours before he can be a contributing member of the team and win the super bowl. The same things must be done to become an effective electrical inspector — a hero. You must know the rules, you must keep up with the playbook, and you must practice your trade.

An electrical inspector has as a goal, safety. Electrical safety for the people — our neighbors, our friends, and our families. Electrical safety for the structures — factories, stores, and homes. In order to discern what is safe relative to the electrical system, one must know the rules — the Code, keep up with the changes, and be able to recognize when the rules are not being followed.

One does not just say, “I am an electrical inspector” and automatically become one. The quarterback has had many teachers and coaches along the way to becoming a successful team member. So it is with the electrical inspector. Maybe the inspector started out as a helper for an electrician, worked his or her way up to be a journeyman or mechanic, and maybe even became an electrical contractor. All along the way there were teachers and coaches. He or she was even learning from fellow workers.

IAEI has as one of its goals to enhance the knowledge and improve the skills of its members by collecting, interpreting, and disseminating information on subjects relevant to the profession. Providing materials, books, and presentations to assist the inspector in knowing the rules, interpreting the rules, and applying the rules is a most important part of what IAEI is and does. A knowledgeable and up-to-date inspector is a vital part of assuring a safe electrical installation and system.

What better way for an electrical inspector to show his or her knowledge, skills, and professionalism than by showing all others their credentials by becoming a Certified Electrical Inspector? IAEI can provide that recognition through its CEI program. Training, and continued training are what made the quarterback successful. So it is with the electrical inspector. Training, certification, continued training are what will go a long way in establishing that hero’s image and cause all the school kids to want to see the Electrical Inspector’s vehicle and get the privilege to sit in it.

May is electrical safety month. This is the month that electrical safety is stressed. How we use the awesome power of electricity safely and how the delivery of that power safely to the TV set, hairdryer or any end use of the power should not be considered for just one month a year. It is a full-time job. The electrical inspector’s job is one that can provide that safety so all can enjoy the benefits of electricity.

James W. Carpenter
Former IAEI CEO and Executive Director, and Editor-in-Chief for the IAEI News, James Carpenter was previously the chief electrical engineer, state electrical inspector for the Engineering Division of the Office of State Fire Marshal, North Carolina Department of Insurance. He had been with the department for twenty years, with twenty years electrical experience prior to coming to the state. He was a member of CMP-2 from 1987 to 2002 and was chairman for the last three cycles. He has been a member of IAEI since 1972. He was also a member of NFPA and is serving as the TCC chair and on the Standards Council. He was on the UL Electrical Council.