Still the Best Bang for the Buck

Many questions have arisen since the announcement that the IAEI Board of Directors, recognizing the need for additional revenue, voted to increase the dues to $90.00 per year effective January 1, 2003.

Let us review what the purpose and objectives of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors are. Our founders, some 75 years ago, saw the need for an organization that could represent the electrical inspector in the national and international arena. In fashioning the Articles of Association they set forth in Article II, Section 1 the details of what the objectives of the IAEI shall be.

(a) To cooperate in the formulation of standards for the safe installation and use of electrical materials, devices and appliances.

(b) To promote the uniform understanding and application of the National Electrical Code and other electrical codes.

(c) To promote cooperation between inspectors, the electrical industry and the public.

(d) To collect and disseminate information relative to the safe use of electricity.

(e) To represent the Electrical Inspectors in all matters which are dealt with nationally and internationally by the electrical industry.

(f) To cooperate with other national and international organizations in furthering the development of the electrical industry.

Back 75 years ago the emphasis was on the national scene but today, in 2003, the scene is moving globally.

What do these objectives mean to the local one-person inspection department in small town America or the largest municipality? Why does the inspector need to belong to an international organization? What does the inspector member or the associate member get for $90.00 a year?

The IAEI sponsors two members, a principal and an alternate, on each of the nineteen NEC code making panels, and a principal and an alternate on the Technical Correlating Committee. The IAEI also has members on other standards making panels. This is done to fulfill the first objective to cooperate in the formation of standards. Even though the members are volunteering their time to do this important work of assuring that the inspectors’ voice and viewpoint is presented in the standards making process, the IAEI finances the travel, lodging, and meals of these 40 plus people. This happens on a three-year cycle so funds must be available for the ROP and ROC meetings. Even the smallest building in the most remote location must have a safe electrical installation and use safe electrical materials, devices, and appliances. The IAEI objective of cooperating in the formation of recognized standards IS important to every citizen living or working where electricity is used.

To promote the uniform understanding of electrical codes and standards, the IAEI produces publications on various aspects of the electrical code. These publications are on such timely code subjects as grounding, wiring of one- and two-family dwellings, and analysis of changes of the NEC. These books are priced to defray the cost of production and to return some extra funds to the association but printing must be paid for up-front. The IAEI decided to make these books available in the year that the NEC came out instead of spreading the production out over three years. The IAEI has an outstanding and hardworking staff writing material for the various books but they can’t do it all, so others are contracted to help write—another expense.

The Education Department is also producing and conducting seminars on a variety of timely subjects. The IAEI provides these educational experiences in many different ways. We conduct on-site seminars using our staff as instructors or contract with others to provide the instruction. We can partner with local chapters or divisions to conduct seminars, and we make available materials for chapters and divisions to conduct their own seminars.

The Education Department and the Publication Department combine to collect information (Education Department) and disseminate information (Publication Department) on the safe installation and use of electricity. Our representatives on code panels provide valuable information and insight on the code changes that is used by the Education Department to compose the text for the books. The Publication Department does an excellent job of editing and laying out the text and illustrations to produce an award-winning IAEI News and other technical books. This work does not just happen. Talented people are necessary and proper support in the form of advanced computers and software is required.

To represent the electrical inspector in the national and international arena and to cooperate with national and international organizations, the IAEI joins with others on the United States National Committee to represent the U.S. on the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Of course all this requires a support staff in the Customer Service Department. With the turn-over in customer service personnel, we have had problems with errors with our database. This seems to be what most people notice first about the association. We must do something to keep staff longer so they will be more sensitive to the members’ needs and realize what it means when errors are made.

Other things are needed to support the carrying out of the objectives. We have an office building that we must keep up to protect the investment— new roof, maintenance, taxes, and utilities. Also legal fees are incurred to protect our intellectual properties and to keep us out of trouble in contracts and agreements we enter into with other parties.

When all things are considered, I believe when one stops and reflects on them, one can see that a $90.00 membership fee to belong and support the IAEI is still “The Best Bang for the Buck.” I also believe that you only get out of anything, what you put into it. So take advantage of Section, Chapter and Divisions meetings. Participate in the education programs provided or better yet share your knowledge with others through the IAEI!

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.