ICC Members: The individuals behind codes and safety — John Cheatham
Code professionals ensure building safety today, for a stronger tomorrow. As the individuals behind modern codes and standards, these professionals are responsible for ensuring the safety and compliance of codes and standards, shaping the safety of the world around us, and serve as the safety foundation for our buildings. They don’t just ensure that buildings are constructed to withstand the stress of everyday use, they are behind the security and stability of every building. They specialize in preventative measures to help communities weather unforeseen natural disasters and ensure that first responders have less to worry about and can do their jobs safely. Code professionals are an essential piece in the building and construction puzzle and are engaged in the building process from the initial building plan to the finished product.
The International Code Council is a member-focused association with over 64,000 members dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. They protect the public through their commitment to building safety; enforce code compliance to empower and educate stakeholders across the built environment to embrace and integrate safety standards in their work; support economic development by making our buildings sturdier, and therefore longer lasting. Their knowledge, skills, and abilities impact every building, in every community.
The Code Council recognizes the importance of continuing to grow awareness of the important work that code professionals do and the impact they have, in the hopes of encouraging aspiring building safety professionals to join in on the building safety movement. In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked John Cheatham to share his experience in the industry, highlights of his professional career, and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry and the future of building safety.
Regional Operations Manager/ BO
SAFEbuilt Ohio LLC
North Canton, Ohio, United States
International Code Council member for 20+ years
Ohio Building Officials Association
BSJ: What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in building safety?
Cheatham: I was a builder (a few years commercial then mostly single-family houses). I became interested in the administrative side, code enforcement, plan review, inspections, etc. I was also interested in helping to adopt new and improved codes.
BSJ: What three things do you need to be successful in this industry and in your profession?
Cheatham: One, look at the big picture. It’s all about really wanting to help create and maintain a safe building environment. Two, have a proper work/life balance. The industry can be stressful so keep your priorities straight. And third, listen to what others are really saying. Observe. Pay attention to details.
BSJ: What role have mentors, advisors or your network played in your career?
Cheatham: I have surrounded myself with others that were successful, qualified, and had deep integrity. I learned early on that the more educated I became, the more education I needed. I observed, questioned and hung out with those who had proven track records in this industry.
BSJ: What led you to become an ICC member?
Cheatham: I wanted to access the benefits available. Early on, I spent a fair amount of time on the venue for code consistency (kind of like a blog?). I wished to continue my code development and found ICC to be the premier source for everything code-related.
BSJ: Are you involved in any ICC committees or councils? Do you have any ICC certifications?
Cheatham: I have my BO and BI. I am taking five additional tests in May for Mechanical Insp., Non-Residential IUD Insp., Mechanical Plans Examiner, Building Plans Examiner, Fire Protection Plans Examiner.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Cheatham: 23 years.
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Cheatham: The progression of ICC (I tested first under BOCA), expanded life-safety codes, better education, better-educated code enforcement personnel, better testing of products and methods of construction, more engagement in the code process from the inspectors to the building officials.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Cheatham: Being on the cutting edge of technology as it advances into the virtual inspection realm and using drones and advanced means that we once just dreamed about.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Cheatham: Get as much education as you can. Expand your horizons and gain as many certifications as possible. Stay focused. Be a mentor to others coming up behind you.
BSJ: What do you see as most surprising about the work that you do?
Cheatham: The lack of public knowledge as to the relative importance to our industry. The erroneous perception that our work isn’t critical to life safety.
BSJ: What would you like to do next in your professional/personal life?
Cheatham: Continue to mentor others in the industry that are new to this great profession.
BSJ: What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Cheatham: Hiking, music, being with family, auctions.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
Cheatham: John – Who? 🙂
There’s a world of opportunity in being a member of the International Code Council. Membership provides the tools to get the most out of each workday: from discounts on essential International Codes and other publications to the best prices on top-quality training and ICC certification renewals, Code Council membership helps budgets go further. Exclusive member benefits include code advice from expert technical staff as well as access to member-exclusive news and articles at the Building Safety Journal news portal. Plus, only Code Council members vote in the ICC code development process. An online Career Center allows job postings and searches for new job opportunities — all at no additional charge.
The Code Council offers numerous councils, committees, and resources to help code professionals grow and network with colleagues. Six discipline-specific Membership Councils offer members a place to come together and be a more powerful force in shaping your association, your industry, your career, and your future. Code Development Committees are an instrumental part of the ICC code development process and are responsible for the review and evaluation of code change proposals submitted to the International Codes. Professional Development Committees serve to better align the ICC education programs and certification programs to ensure that quality training is available to meet the needs of all members, customers and certification holders. Finally, the Value of the Code Official toolkit helps members to heighten awareness of the importance of code officials to their communities and to highlight the code official’s role as a helpful advocate for community safety, health and welfare, and economic development.