Best practices for the safety of code officials promoted at virtual leadership academy
Last month, the Code Enforcement Officer Safety Foundation (CEOSF) presented at the International Code Council’s Chapter Leadership Academy, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Foundation President Justin Edson discussed CEOSF, available resources and its recent partnership with the Code Council to support code officials and protect all the professionals in the industry. Edson also shared information about CEOSF’s new global Certification Program for Officer Safety to the chapter leaders and in the interest of sharing resources, exchanging information in support of code official safety and increasing collaboration between the two building safety organizations, submitted the following article that references that effort to support, promote and recognize those code enforcement professionals that have paid the highest price to protect their communities.
The Code Enforcement Officer Safety Foundation (CEOSF) appreciated the opportunity to present during the ICC Chapter Leadership Academy. As a new non-profit charity that is just over six months old, we have been thrilled at the partnership with the International Code Council, which not only develops the codes for a safe community but is responsible for the professional development of all the inspectors across the world who help regulate those codes in their communities. The Foundation was founded on the principle of keeping those inspectors safe and aware of the dangers in the profession. Whether you are a building inspector, fire inspector or code official, you are tasked with the regulation of codes. This may involve correction notices, stop work orders, structure postings, citations or criminal cases against violators. It is important for all of us to understand that these actions affect other people’s lives whether financially or emotionally. We do not know what the person is going through emotionally or psychologically. Even though the majority of our inspections and conversations with the public go very well, we must be prepared for the incident that can threaten our life.
During this presentation to the ICC Chapter Leadership Academy, dozens of headlines from across the country were shared where inspectors and code enforcement officers were assaulted, murdered or threatened. The presentation provided details on the statistics that the Foundation is collecting. A great feature on the CEOSF website is on the “Statistics” page where it shows a feed of reported incidents from colleagues across the country. Did you know there are violators that have shown up to a code official’s personal home? Did you know some of the murders occurred at a city hall? The CEOSF website has a memorial page for all of the murdered officials. They held titles as building inspectors, code enforcement officers, housing inspectors and zoning inspectors. Some incidents involved violators blocking officials in, threatening to find them, and actually assaulting them. All of the information shared during this presentation is found on the Foundation’s website at www.codeofficersafety.org.
The Foundation reads all the emails that come in. We hear you! This is why we continue to adapt, grow and share information to keep our colleagues safe. A major development was the creation of our Code Official Safety Specialist Certification Program. This is a series of five detailed classes that cover verbal de-escalation, tactical mindset, phases of a contact, fear management and surviving a violent encounter. These are all offered virtually and can receive continuing education units. Our first class starts on July 14 and we already have building, fire and code enforcement professionals signed up. Agencies are also sending their support and counter staff to attend. Do not get caught up in complacency and think nothing will hurt you in your career. Be prepared, learn, practice and be safe! Get certified by signing up at www.codeofficersafety.org/certification.
The Code Enforcement Officer Safety Foundation is excited for our future with the International Code Council as we focus on keeping inspectors and code officials safe on the job so they can go home. The Foundation appreciates the support and sincerity from the Code Council related to the safety of the professionals regulating codes. We thank all jurisdictions that send their staff to these trainings to promote safety. Everything the Foundation makes goes right back into the mission and helping officials across the country. The CEOSF Board of Directors is made up of building officials, division managers and code enforcement officers across the country that volunteer their time because they care about the safety of our friends.
— Justin Edson, CEOSF President