East Central Building Official’s Education meetings prove beneficial

Rachel Kytonen

In order to further their education and promote efficiency, a group of area building officials gather quarterly as part of the East Central Building Official’s Education meetings.

Jeff Pleski

Cambridge Building Inspector Jeff Pleski is the facilitator of the East Central Building Official’s Education meetings, and custodian of the records. He is responsible for distributing information to all the group members, putting together the agendas and organizing the presenters and educational classes.

“The purpose of our meetings is to educate code officials in the areas of building code where further discussion is needed to clarify interpretation and promote uniformity of enforcement,” Pleski said. “As facilitator of these meetings, it’s an added duty and takes a lot of time and certain degree of passion. I try to make the meetings fun and encourage people to come.”

The last meeting of the building officials was held in late March and attended by approximately 15 building officials from all over the area including Cambridge, Isanti, Braham and North Branch.

Pleski said building officials earn a Continuing Education Credit for each meeting they attend. If they attend all four meetings per year, they earn four Continuing Education Credits.

Pleski said every three years, building officials need to renew their inspector license which requires 24 continuing education credits.

“If a building official attends all four meetings per year for three years, they will earn one-half of their required continuing education credits,” Pleski said.

Besides state certification, Pleski also has two national certifications with the International Code Council.

“No one goes after extra things unless they really have a passion for their job,” Pleski said. “I really enjoy working for the city of Cambridge, and decided I wanted the extra national certifications.”

Pleski, who retired in August 1992 after 22 years in the U.S. Army, began as a contracted inspector with the city of Cambridge in December 2000, and became a full-time employee in January 2002. Pleski was the first full-time building inspector the city hired.

“It has been a great tour of duty here,” Pleski said. “I love my job. I’ve had a great opportunity handed to me to be a part of the growth of the city. It has been an honor to be a part of every new construction that has come to this town.”

At the Building Officials meeting, Pleski said they talk about all the different codes that include energy, mechanical and building codes, and bring in guest speakers and presenters.

In his last meeting held March 24, the guest speakers were the National HVAC Contractor of the Year and the Minnesota State Mechanical Engineer from Department of Labor and Industry.

“Members gain knowledge, which is very important to our jobs because it’s all very technical,” Pleski said. “They gain confidence in knowledge of the job, and identify areas needing further study or discussion.

“During the meetings we talk about areas of possible contention, and possible gray areas. We are able to discuss these items to achieve better uniformity of enforcement,” he added.

Pleski, who took over as facilitator of the meetings in 2009, started saving costs by having all correspondence communicated via email, rather than mail. He also increased the meeting time from 1 to 4 p.m. so the meetings would be held quarterly rather than monthly.

Taking pride in a job well done brings great satisfaction to Pleski.

“I like my job, and find ways to stay busy when not actively doing inspections,” Pleski said. “There are always things we can improve to our building department in some way. I spend a lot of time trying to write code enforcement in way a common person would understand.”

Working for the public is something Pleski takes seriously.

“We are here to serve and not to be served,” Pleski said. “Our job is to help the public and serve the public any way we can. We also try to educate the people the best we can on permits and code enforcement. For us, it’s all about safety for people, the structures and the common goal of community responsibility, and it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.

In his role as building inspector, Pleski said he needs to look at the needs of the entire community.

“With our team at city hall, we are looking at the needs, welfare and common good of the city as a whole—not just one person’s self-serving interests,” Pleski said. “We have to be fair and consistent for everyone. I’m guided by always trying to do the right thing.”