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Code Enforcement Training & Certification
Frequently Asked Questions
Why have a state-level training program?
Training and certification for code enforcement officers was mandated by Maine law in 1989. The legislation required a training program be established by the state to assist municipal code officials administer state and local laws.
Prior to passage of the legislation, Maine lacked a formal training program for municipal code officials, most of whom were enforcing state and local laws. The intent of the legislation was to promote professionalism, as well as consistency in administration and enforcement of environmental regulations and building standards. To a great extent that goal has been achieved, however, it is a never ending mission as new individuals enter the profession continually.
The task of meeting this goal is assigned to the State Planning Office. There are currently two staff assigned to the program. Their job is to develop training programs, coordinate training delivery, conduct certification exams, and maintain the necessary records required of a state-level training program.
How to become a certified code officer
Code enforcement officers are municipal officials appointed annually by the elected municipal officers of a city or town. State law requires code officials enforcing any regulations concerned with land use regulation, shoreland zoning, internal plumbing, subsurface wastewater disposal, and building standards to hold proper state certification
A non-certified individual may be appointed to enforce shoreland zoning regulations, land use regulations, or building standards, however, they must earn state certification within 12 calendar months of appointment. The same 12-month grace period does not, however, apply to appointments as local plumbing inspector. In other words, to be appointed as an LPI an individual must be state certified prior to assuming the position.
All certified code officers must maintain their state certification through continuing education. Failure of appointed code officers to maintain certification may result in a suspension from official duties. Even where a suspension is not applied, any decisions made, or permits issued, by an uncertified code official may be subjected to legal action.
Re-certification is required on a six-year cycle. An individual failing to earn a sufficient number of credits is decertified and must retake the examination.
Basic training is provided to help newly-appointed CEOs/LPIs gain the necessary grounding to pass the certification exams. Individuals are not required to attend all of SPO's basic training sessions, they need only pass the certification exam.
Recertifying individuals need to document sufficient, creditable and approved training to meet their recertification needs. They may repeat the basic training but it is recommended that outside, advanced training supplement the basic training. In any event, the basic training can only be applied to recertification once in any individual's six-year cycle.
While position turnover in the profession varies by town, over 500 individuals are typically certified at any given time and another 300 to 500 individuals are in the process of preparing for the state exams or simply taking classes. State Planning Office administers rules and policies govern administration of the code officer training and certification program.
For appointed code officers there are no fees for training, on-line manuals or exams. However, a nominal fee is charged of all others.
What is the best way to prepare for the exams?
The program training manuals have been developed to assist individuals studying for the exams. There are specialized educational objectives for each manual that serve to guide the student in his or her studies. Very simply, if you can successfully answer the question(s) raised in each objective listed you will have little trouble passing the exam.
It is recommended that you first review the manual by skimming through the material to get familiar with the format and style of the book. Next review the table of contents and index. Now take some time and carefully read the book. And finally, start working through the educational objectives until you are comfortable answering the questions. Now you are ready to schedule an exam.
What sort of work do code enforcement officers perform?
A code enforcement officer or CEO may perform a range of duties depending upon the specific municipality they work for and the size of the community. Most CEOs enforce the state's minimum shoreland zoning regulations. CEOs also enforce local land use regulations, such as zoning.
In municipalities with more than 2,000 residents CEOs may also serve as the building inspector. Many of these larger communities have adopted model building codes which must be enforced. Many CEOs also serve as the local plumbing inspector enforcing the state's plumbing code and the subsurface wastewater regulations. CEOs also work with personnel of various state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection, State Fire Marshal's Office, and Division of Health Engineering.
Many communities entrust their appointed CEOs to prosecute land use violations in District Court under Civil Court Rule 80-K. CEOs also may apply for Administrative Inspection Warrants under Civil Court Rule 80-E where property owners are uncooperative in respect to requests to conduct a legal inspection. The work of CEOs is varied, demanding, technically challenging, and very much legal oriented.
CEOs work both outdoors and indoors. The outdoor work may be conducted in all types of weather conditions in hazardous construction sites. The indoor work is typically conducted in a town office or city hall. CEOs frequently attend public meetings of the zoning board of appeals and planning board. CEOs may also be called upon to appear in court and to give sworn testimony. Much of their office time is spent researching legal questions, answering technical code questions, reviewing applications for development, consulting with customers, writing reports, and issuing permits.
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