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IAEI Magazine | Author: James W. Carpenter
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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 is also a member of NFPA and is serving as the TCC chair and on the Standards Council. He is on the UL Electrical Council.


Note from the CEO/Executive Director — City of Dallas, Texas, cuts about 36% of building inspection staff

In the September/October editorial, I wrote that the Dallas Morning News had reported that the city of Dallas would not cut code enforcement departments in balancing the budget. It was my impression from that article that "building inspectors—electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and building—and fire inspectors were specifically singled out as those that would NOT be cut.” Unfortunately, this information was incorrect.

Getting Approval to Attend Section Meetings

Does everything around you seem to be moving too fast for you to keep up with? Every day we get news of global warming, conflict between nations and within nations, world economy, national economy, local economy, stock markets falling, automobile companies and banks failing, jobs being lost, governments—national, state, and local—wanting more money, and, yes, inspection departments being downsized and in some cases being closed.

Are You Indispensable?

In the March/April issue of the IAEI News, I was wondering what our administrators were thinking about when they were downsizing or, in some cases, eliminating the inspection services that provide for the safety and welfare of their constituency. This time, I am wondering what we can do as inspectors, installers, designers, manufacturers, etc., to make ourselves so important that the administrators look somewhere else for budget cuts.

Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me

This was the opening line of the song by Buck Owens and Roy Clark on the TV show "Hee Haw.” It seems to fit in the today’s situation. With the TV newscasters and economic analysts constantly reporting on the sad state of affairs, both economic and military actions, it certainly causes us gloom, despair, and agony.

What can I do for IAEI?

As I write this month’s editorial it is just after the annual section meetings and just before the International Board of Directors meeting, and the day after Election Day. If your candidate didn’t win, don’t be disheartened. All of us must work together to keep our country strong and growing. The same is true for our membership and support of IAEI, we must work together to accomplish the goals set for IAEI eighty years ago. Those goals are just as important today, if not more so, as they were back then.

Moving Off First Base

Sometimes I get inspiration for this editorial from the sermon on Sunday morning. Today, as I prepared to work on this editorial, I got my inspiration from Tim Bradley, the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Insurance for the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Tim wrote an article for the North Carolina Council of Code Officials newsletter. His article titled, "You Can’t Steal Second With Your Foot On First,” brings out the point that playing safe means that the only way to advance is for someone else to force you along.

Measuring Good Judgment

To quote Will Rogers, "Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers…” While I was reading a Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News, an interesting article on the recent grounding of airplanes related to airline safety captured my attention. My wife and I had recently been caught in the early stages of this situation when we traveled to North Carolina for the annual North Carolina Electrical Institute. Luckily we were only delayed for a couple of hours when an American Airlines agent was able to reschedule us on another airline.

Electrical safety must be practiced and taught

May is Electrical Safety Month. Each year electrical safety is stressed during this month. This year even more emphasis should be placed on electrical safety, not only in the workplace but in our homes as well. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) reports that most deaths and injuries caused by electrical hazards are preventable.

A Look at IAEI’s Successes

Work needed on the roof, work needed on the walls and floor where the roof leaked, AC units getting old and needing to be replaced. Carpet wearing out, stairs needing refinished, plumbing problems in the bathrooms, more space needed. These are just some of the things that IAEI faces in the not-too-distant future with the headquarters building. Our building was ten years old when we moved to Richardson in 1992. Even though we were the first tenant, the physical structure is getting old.

Are you proud to wear the brand?

The annual section meetings are over and it is time to reflect on 2007. Membership was the major concern for this past year. IAEI’s membership has been static for several years, and we have been slowly losing members. What are the reasons? One can probably cite several reasons—from members retiring, members not renewing for whatever reason, to not enough younger members coming into the association.

Back in The Day

Back when I was in high school, which seems such a long time ago now, my English teacher had our class writing a paper every two weeks. I remember after doing several papers for that class, I began to find it harder and harder to find something to write about. I had used all the stories my mother had told my sister and me about growing up on the farm and the well had run dry, or so I thought. One Sunday night I still hadn’t started on the paper that was due the next morning, and Mother got on me for procrastinating too long. So, I wrote a paper on procrastinating; I got an A on that paper. Well, here I am now trying to write another editorial for the IAEI News. After five years, maybe the well has run dry.

IAEI and the NEC Code-Making Panels

Now that the cycle for the 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code is almost complete, IAEI must begin planning for the next cycle. IAEI continues to play an important role in the NFPA consensus code-making process by supporting inspector members on the code-making panels of NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code. Questions have been asked by members concerning the way IAEI selects inspector members for nomination to the various code-making panels. Let’s examine the process.


There are signs all around us telling us what to do, warning us of danger, and some we are not aware of until it is too late. There are all kinds of signs along the roads we drive on, telling us to stop, merge, or curve ahead. Speed limit signs—I suppose many of you can relate instances where nobody seems to obey the posted speed—are also seen along the roads we travel. We know the signs of spring; the grass turns green, the trees bud, and the flowers bloom. We are aware of all the seasons of the year by the signs we recognize.

Why Are You a Member of IAEI?

The holidays are over and the stress of getting just the right gift for that special someone, of fighting the crowds at the stores, and wondering if the money will last is finally over. Now just the stress of paying the bills as they come in is on us. But was it not worth it to see the happy faces of the children and/or the grandchildren? Now it’s back to the regular grind. But it doesn’t have to be a regular grind. This year, 2007, should be an exciting year for us all. A new National Electrical Code will be published. New learning opportunities will abound— new challenges to meet and conquer, and a whole year to do those things that we have been putting off.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes disguised as work

September 9, 2006 — 250; October 20, 2006 — 262. After six weeks of traveling to all six section meetings that is how much weight I gained. Weight is not all I gained though. Each section meeting offered great educational opportunities in its own unique way. From presentations on Solar Photovoltaic and Fuel Cells Systems at the Northwestern Section; Code Breakfast and Code Panels at the Western Section; Breakout Sessions at the Canadian Section; Code Breakfasts and Analysis of Proposals for the 2008 NEC at the Eastern Section; Code Panel discussions at the Southern Section; to presentation on Fire Pump Installations and Swimming Pools and Spas at the Southwestern Section, education was the focus.

Three New Programs for Motivated Members

Summer is nearly over and the children are back in school. For most of us vacation times are now fond memories. It is back to work until the next opportunity for a relaxation period. Speaking of opportunity, IAEI has joined with Underwriters Laboratories to offer a way for our members to participate in a program that will teach our school children electrical safety. This opportunity gives you a way to give back to your community.

Be All You Can Be! Come to your section meeting

It is the middle of the summer and fall is just around the corner. Likewise, IAEI’s annual section meetings are approaching. This issue of the IAEI News highlights the six section meeting locations and programs. I always get excited about now, looking forward to traveling to all the great locations that have been selected to hold these meetings. Cities like Spokane, Washington; Traverse City, Michigan; Ottawa, Canada; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Fort Worth, Texas; and San Diego, California are where we are scheduled to go this year. Meeting new people, getting reacquainted with friends, and sharing all the many things that we have experienced in the past year is always exciting. What a wonderful opportunity to get together.

Play the Ball Where the Monkey Drops It

The minister of the church Mary Anne and I attend opened his sermon the other week by relating a story from Gregory K. Jones’ book about India back when the country was a colony of England. Many English people lived in India — businessmen, military personnel, etc. — and they longed for some of the conveniences of dear ole England.

Growing the Membership

By now, March 2006, all your good intentions and New Year’s resolutions probably have been forgotten. Well, maybe not all. Hopefully your resolution to be more involved in your profession by continuing your education, upgrading your skills, and increasing your knowledge is still a priority for you. That is where IAEI should be in your plans. IAEI provides many opportunities for you to advance your goals. IAEI also provides a place for you to hone your leadership and communication skills.

What Will Tomorrow Bring IAEI?

I am writing this just after the six annual section meetings and the annual International Board of Directors meeting have concluded. As I reflect back on the section meetings, I am reminded of the different styles of the meetings. Each section has its own unique style but the common thread among all of IAEI is still evident, Safety and Education.

Don’t Let the Smoke Get in Their Eyes!

We live in changing times. It seems as soon as we get comfortable, or at least used to a situation, things change. The price of gas goes up again. Property evaluations and, therefore, taxes increase. Somebody commits suicide by blowing himself up to kill and maim others. These are the types of things that are making the news today. But many other things are happening that kind of fall under the radar. Things that may not affect us or our way of life right now, but may have far-reaching consequences as time goes on. Not so recognizable at the present time, these are the things that we must remain on the alert for.

It’s That Time of Year Again!

It’s summertime and that means that annual section meetings dates are close at hand. This year’s meetings should be especially interesting and beneficial to not only the electrical inspector but to all electrical industry people.

Safety is Our Main Concern

During IAEI’s 75th Anniversary, the Diamond Jubilee, two electrical industry leaders, Jack Wells, Pass & Seymour/Legrande, and Jim Pauley, Square D/Schneider Electric, presented a glimpse of what we might expect in the future. One part that stuck with me was that the electrical inspector would be looked upon with great favor by school children, so much so that they would be gathering around the Electrical Inspector’s vehicle instead of a big red fire truck. Sounded pretty far-fetched. It was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek item, but why not?

What Happened in 2004?

Let’s take a few moments to reflect back at the past year before we look forward to 2005. The year 2004 has been a successful and exciting period on the international, national, local, and, more specifically, the IAEI scene.

Weighing Benefits Against Leadership

After making the rounds to all six section meetings with International President Lanny McMahill and four meetings with Vice President of International Affairs Doug Geralde, we learned once again that even though things are different many things are the same. The uniqueness of each section was evident but as we met with leaders and members it was clear that all had similar goals and problems, no, make that, opportunities.

Two Down, and…

Another year has passed since I became your CEO and Executive Director. Two years and you would think I would have learned all about the operation of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors by now. Things just keep changing! Just when I think I have a handle on a situation something else comes along. Get the roof repaired and it leaks somewhere else. Just getting around to learning the 2002 National Electrical Code and out comes the 2005! Things are always changing. As I said two years ago in my first editorial—Yesterday things where different, today things are different again.

Taking the Collar Off IAEI

Back when I was just a little shaver, sitting at my Grandmother Carpenter’s knee, she recounted to me an aphorism I did not understand at that time. "The youth of this world have been going to the dogs since the days of Rome, but they have not gotten there yet.” Now, some sixty years later, that saying has caused me to realize that truth in many more ways than just being applied to the youth.

Safety is Important All the Time

It’s the time of year again when electrical safety is stressed. May is National Electrical Safety Month. Even though we all know and realize that safety is important all the time, it is proper to remind ourselves from time-to-time of not just electrical safety, but being safe in all that we do, at home, at work, or wherever we may be.

How Long Will the Inspector’s Voice Be Heard?

It has been a year now since the much-dreaded dues increase. Many members realized the importance of belonging to an organization that has electrical safety as its main goal and have maintained their membership without questions about the necessity of the increase. Some have questioned the increase but stayed with IAEI because of the benefits and goals. Others have decided that the increase was too much for what they were getting, or perceived they were getting, and did not renew.

IAEI’s Changing Leadership Role…Helping Inspectors Adapt to Change in 2004

All I know is what I read in the newspaper.” I have used that line before. It is a quote from Will Rogers, and Chub Sewell used to open his articles in the North Carolina State magazine that way for many years.

One Down…

June 1, 2003, was my first anniversary as your CEO and executive director. My, how time does fly! What has happened in the past year? My and Mary Anne’s grandson has gotten a year older and is quite the young man, just passing through the "terrible twos,” and we have a new granddaughter that is already wrapping everyone around her little finger. Of course, we are a year older too, but let’s not talk about that!

Summer Time and The Living is Easy!

Yes, hot weather is here and one’s thoughts turn to cooling off in the swimming pool. Now we have to make sure the pool water is clear and pure. How much chemical is necessary? How to keep leaves and other matter out of the water is another concern. Getting the pool in shape is almost as important as getting one’s self in shape. After all, we must look good in that new bathing suit. One thing we don’t want to worry about is the electrical system. We don’t expect to feel tingle shocks when we are in or around the pool. We want the pump to run and the lights to work even if they have not been used since last summer. Well, just like the car or any thing else, there are some things that need to be checked along with the water quality.

Electrical Safety, A Continuous Objective

May is National Electrical Safety Month, the time when we stress electrical safety to the public; but electrical safety is a continuous objective to those of us in the industry. That silent, unseen force works miraculously every time we turn on the TV, electrical range, or the light switch; and it is usually there waiting for the command to begin work. However, if the system that contains and controls that unseen power is not maintained or is abused, then a catastrophe can happen. Yet sometimes in our normal day-to-day living, the maintenance of the electrical system is occasionally overlooked and, just like our automobiles, as time and use go on things wear out.

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.

Anyone Can Be a Residential Electrical Inspector?

What is the IAEI all about? To me the IAEI’s primary concern is safety! It insists on electrical safety wherever electricity is used. It insists on electrical safety for installers, industry workers, owners, and for future generations. To ensure greater electrical safety we support standards by sponsoring representatives on code-making bodies and standard developing committees. The IAEI educational programs are another way we strive for electrical safety. The IAEI has seminars and materials for training in a variety of different subjects.

A Look at Resolutions, again!

As the year 2002 draws to a close and the new year comes before we know it, we traditionally reflect on what the past year has brought and what we expect for the next. Many of us make new year’s resolutions with good intentions of keeping them and making changes in our lives or work. I wonder what new year’s resolutions you will be making? May I suggest a few? What about resolving to gain more knowledge to help you in your job? The IAEI has many excellent educational programs to help you with this resolution. The Analysis of the Changes, 2002 NEC, is a thorough presentation of the many important changes in the NEC. The Soares Grounding seminar is another good educational experience for those that need help in understanding the ins and outs of grounding. There are several other programs that the IAEI conducts in coordination with chapters or as separately conducted programs.

"Yesterday things were different…Today, they are different again.”

The opening line from a southern gospel music song by the Cathedrals has special meaning for me at this point of my life. Yesterday, I was very comfortable in my position as the chief electrical engineer, state electrical inspector with the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Today, I find myself moved to another state and with a new position—CEO & Executive Director of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors. Now you may surmise from the opening of this editorial that big changes are coming as I begin this experience as your CEO, but I am not one to rush in and make a lot of changes.