A Closer Look: AHJs and the Need for Third-Party Qualified Personnel

Today, building and electrical codes are more complex than ever. But what does this mean for Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs)?

15 May 2014

The role of the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is becoming increasingly difficult in today's world. As building and electrical codes become more complex, so does the increase need for the AHJ to be able to understand the codes and where/how they are applied. This task requires a more specialized inspector which requires an increase in personnel or more training. With the continual tightening of city and municipal budgets, AHJs are being challenged to do more with less.

As a guardian of public safety, few (if any) things weigh heavier on AHJs' minds than trust. Trust in the people they work with, trust in the process they work through, and trust in the organizations they partner with. One type of organization, the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) is stepping up to help the AHJ in a new capacity. While most AHJs are likely to recognize an NRTL by its marks (ETL, Warnock Hersey, CSA, UL, etc) AHJs are now starting to recognize NRTLs through their personnel qualification programs. These programs, work to qualify trained and competent men and women to perform inspections on life safety applications, such as fire doors and alarm systems.

As independent, third-party certification bodies, NRTLs provide AHJs a unique option to assist them in their quest for public safety. Third-party laboratories are closely tied to the industries they serve, like fire doors—an integral piece of the life-safety system an AHJ inspects and is most concerned about. Working so closely with these industries keeps the NRTL tied into applicable codes, their intended application, and recent updates. Knowing the role that an NRTL plays in the development and enforcement of standards (which are key to ensuring products comply with code), helps lay the foundation of trust for AHJs.

While we don't know what tomorrow will bring, we can assume that AHJs will continue to feel the pain of increased responsibilities with decreasing funds to meet them. This trend calls AHJs to work with trusted external partners. Partners who are uniquely qualified to shoulder the same burden of responsibility during an inspection that an AHJ does, and partners who have the same overall organizational goal: safety.

The need for 3rd party qualified personnel is imminent and NRTLs are proud to be able to work with these guardians of public safety to provide a solution.

What questions do you have related to this topic? Please leave your question or comment below and our expert will get back to you.

Today's expert blogger is Gary Flom, Service Line Leader and head of the Intertek Qualified Personnel (IQP) Program. Gary has been with Intertek for 20 years and is based in the Atlanta office.