Just make it up as you go? Please don’t… 

Chief Alan Perdue

By Chief Alan Perdue (ret.), SBC Executive Director

Posted on November 20, 2023

One of the things I have learned during my public safety career is that there are certain people that either can’t — or don’t want to — admit that they don’t know or understand something. Instead of searching out the truth, they often just make it up as they go. That's fine if you are playing a game with a group of friends. However, if you are enforcing codes and standards, such a make-it-up-as-you-go approach is ill-advised. Having a clear understanding of what you are requiring as a code official is paramount to applying and enforcing the requirements.

For example, this week, we received an inquiry from an integrator requesting information for UL 2524 evaluated and listed antennas for an ERCES system being installed. The local code official within the jurisdiction had made the request for listed antennas as a requirement in order to approve the permit.

When I read the request, it reminded me of a sign I read a while back that said, “If I don’t know what I’m doing, I just pretend.” Now, I will be the first to say that it’s important to understand that as a code official, you only know what you know. What that means is they (the code official) may have never been exposed to the subject at hand or had any formal training related to it.

If that’s the case, it’s important for the code official to admit that fact and not require something that doesn’t exist. One of the key areas of any code or standard everyone must be aware of is the scope. The scope details what the requirements within the standard apply to. Equally important is what the standard does not apply to. In this case, the scope of UL 2524 is clear.



UL 2524

As a code official, you must have a clear understanding of what you are requiring. The problem with making a request that is not within the scope of a standard is the impact it can have on the overall process -- in this case of designing and installing an ERCES. This is especially important during a new construction project where timelines can be critical or have significant monetary penalties if the project is not completed on time.

Albert Einstein once said, “I don’t need to know everything. I just need to know where to find it when I need it.” To accomplish that goal, its important to develop sufficient resources such as building relationships with various stakeholders with knowledge of the subject, attending in-person and online training events, and building a library of subject matter textbooks such as the Complete ERCES Handbook (ERCEShandbook.com) to name a few.

Remember, making it up as you go simply does not work in the world of codes and standards. Take time to invest in yourself so that you can serve others with confidence. When it comes to ERCES, do it right the first time and every time. #feelsafeinside…


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