Oak Bluffs building inspector working toward certification

Oak Bluffs building inspector working toward certification

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Municipal building inspectors are responsible for enforcing construction codes and managing the town's building department. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Sixteen months after his appointment in December 2011, Oak Bluffs building inspector Jim Dunn has completed only one of five tests required for certification as a municipal inspector of buildings, according to a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety.

Mr. Dunn applied for and received a six-month extension following the one-year grace period granted for new building inspectors to complete the certification requirements. At the discretion of the state board, he may be eligible for two more six-month extensions.

According to state spokesman Terrel Harris, Mr. Dunn has passed one of the five tests covering various aspects of code enforcement, construction, and municipal administration, needed to be certified.

State regulations allow a one year grace period to acquire passing results on requisite exams. “Mr. Dunn was appointed on December 15, 2011,” Mr. Harris wrote in an email to The Times. “The grace period expired on December 15, 2012. Typically, a candidate is afforded three six-month extension periods beyond the grace period if he/she is pursuing exam requirements.”

Mr. Harris said Mr. Dunn has accumulated 32 hours of continuing education credit.

Study time

In a phone interview with The Times last Tuesday, Mr. Dunn said he has an extension until June to complete the requirements.

“I’m certified as a residential inspector, and I’m completing certification for commercial inspectors,” Mr. Dunn said. “It takes as long as it takes. You have to study.”

He said he is unaware of any other certifications required.

The town has an arrangement with the Falmouth building inspector Eladio Gore to consult with the Oak Bluffs department when needed.

Mr. Dunn was asked when the Falmouth inspector comes to Martha’s Vineyard.

“Whenever he has to,” Mr. Dunn replied. “Whenever I have a question.”

He said he could not give an example of a situation where the Falmouth inspector might be called in.

Town administrator Bob Whritenour, who was previously the Falmouth town manager, said he called on Mr. Gore, rather than a building inspector from a neighboring Island town, because he worked with Mr. Gore for many years, and considers him very well qualified to help Oak Bluffs.

“He is one of the most experienced and highly respected building inspectors in the region,” Mr. Whritenour said. “He’s got all the certifications. If it was a major commercial project, he would definitely look at it.”

Mr. Whritenour said the town’s building department has improved since Mr. Dunn’s appointment.

“The relationship with the community and the public has improved a lot,” he said. “The inspections are all being done in a timely way. They have been working on their customer relations. The board of health and the building department are working better together.”

Requirements

Certification for a municipal building inspector includes requirements for a combination of education and work experience, as well as completion of tests, according to the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards.

The building inspector must have five years or more of experience in the supervision of building construction or design, or the equivalent experience and education as determined by the state board.

Certification also includes five written exams. The exams cover much of the knowledge required for a construction supervisor’s license, commonly called a general contractor’s license, including general knowledge of the quality and strength of building materials, requirements for building construction, fire prevention, light, ventilation, and safe exits.

Municipal building inspectors are also required to pass tests covering building codes, fire codes, property management, legal aspects of code administration, code enforcement, building department administration, and human resource management in local government.

If a town appoints a building inspector, the inspector has one year to complete any certification requirements he does not already have. With three extensions, the applicant has a total of two and a half years to complete the requirements.