The building inspector program is an eight-hour course that aims to give inspectors the tools and knowledge they need when inspecting HVAC systems. The ITI holds the courses at sheet metal training centers across the country.
Two of the course’s eight hours focus on hands-on training where building inspectors change fittings, test air systems, operate fire dampers and learn what to look for while on an inspection.
“They can’t control everything. They’re not engineers. But they can tell when something’s wrong and require it to be fixed,” said Steve McKenzie, field staff at the institute and a program instructor. “Who is going to prevent energy loss and increase efficiency for the homeowner or the building owner? The inspector.”
McKenzie said the building inspectors are not typically from the sheet metal trade and don’t necessarily fully understand some complex HVAC systems. The program seeks to create an atmosphere where the inspectors receive the information from the trade that designed the systems and understands them best.
“We’re not trying to teach them to do their jobs. We are trying to make their jobs easier by teaching them how to inspect today’s more complex HVAC systems,” he added. “By the end of the day, they say they’ve learned more in this class than any other before.”
In Philadelphia, building inspectors from the city as well as other entities come to the Sheet Metal Workers union Local 19 training center for the union-affiliated program. Aldo Zambetti, training coordinator at Local 19, works some fire and life-safety training into his program because buildings in his area were going years without their annual proper fire-damper inspection.
“It lets them know what can be altered on a fire-damper system, what you can run into and how they should be inspected,” Zambetti said. “We educate from the ground level apprentice to the head building inspector for the city of Philadelphia and show them the skills at their level. It’s really come across very well.”