A presentation of History of the Massachusetts Building Commissioners and Inspectors Association, Inc.
From October 4, 1939 to June 23, 2014
I start with the past because that is where it all begins. On October 4, 1939 thirteen Building Inspectors from 11 Cities and Towns founded the Massachusetts Building Commissioners and Inspectors Association, Inc. They met in Worcester with and decided unanimously to form this Corporation.
The purposes of said corporation was to be: to establish, foster and maintain social interest; to collect and disseminate all matters of interest to the membership and allied trades. To broaden and expand the acquaintance of the membership; and to promote good fellowship among its membership. Gordon Robertson was elected the first President and the rest is history.
The establishment of this Association we have come to learn is the second oldest Building Officials Association in the United States.
Looking back 75 years we wonder at the vision of these early pioneers of our industry. At that time in history every city and town had their own building code. There was no uniformity, and if you were a builder or design professional, you needed to make yourself aware of each city and towns code. At that time only large cities and towns employed full time inspectors. Most small towns had part time inspectors who were mostly in the trades working a regular job. There was no organized training available to educate a new inspector. The establishment of the MBCIA was the first step in providing education to new and established inspectors. The simple step of sitting together around a table with their peers, to talk about some of your problems and hear how others may have handled them was an important education in itself and remains so today. Having members of the building and design community come in to speak, and share their experiences and knowledge, led to a more educated building inspector. This tradition of providing education at our monthly meetings continues today. It remains the most import function and reason for this organization to exist.
In 1949, ten years after forming our own association, MBCIA became a Charter Member and Founding Member of the Eastern States Building Officials Federation (ESBOF). By the forming of that joint venture with the State Associations of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, they were able to provide an annual three day educational seminar for building officials of the participating states. This was at a time when educational opportunities were far and few between. The success of these education seminars is proved by the fact that ESBOF has added three new state associations into active membership, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine. New Hampshire Building Officials Association in 2008, successfully hosted its first ESBOF School at the University of New Hampshire in Bedford New Hampshire, and the Rhode Island Building Officials Association was host to ESBOF School in Newport Rhode Island in 2010.
In 1966, MBCIA again, became a Charter Member and Founding Member with other New England States to form the New England Building Officials Education Association. The NEBOEA annually hosts a four day education seminar at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst Mass. This highly successful school hosts from 350 to 400 building officials from the six New England States. This, along with the Eastern States Building Officials Federation School, has provided Massachusetts Building Officials with the latest in code, engineering and product advances. Both these schools are still providing these educational opportunities today. This along with the educational meetings that are provided by the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards, gives the Building Official’s in Massachusetts have ample opportunity for advancement.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention MBCIA’s involvement with the establishment of our statewide code. In 1976, through an Act of the Legislature, the Board of Building Regulations was formed to promulgate the first state wide building code. Our leadership at that time was instrumental in working to establish this board, and also to serve on this board as representatives of the Building Officials of this State. At that time we heard the first words regarding Certification for Massachusetts Building Inspectors. It took sixteen more years before this important process came about. Today a building official, who has passed the national certification test provided by this state, is qualified to serve as a building official, in every State across United States. The State Code leaned heavily on the National Model Code developed by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA). MBCIA was a Chapter of BOCA, and over the years, many of our members have served on various code committees and on the Board of Directors. Chester Penza, Building Commissioner of Amherst Mass, served as President of BOCA in 1976 and Jeffrey Coates and Ronald Wetmore, both served terms as directors. Presently our current Building Code is based primarily on the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC), which are promulgated by the International Code Council (ICC) and is the successor to BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI, which were the three model code developers in the United States. The merger of these three model code groups has produced a unified code that is used not only in the United States but across the globe. During this process, MBCIA through its representation on the BOCA Board of Directors and committees provided timely input in the merger process and the development of the International Building Codes.
The process of having a unified voice at the State Level has led to joint ventures with the Southeastern Massachusetts Building Officials Association (SEMBOA), and the Building Officials of Western Massachusetts Association (BOWM) and the Massachusetts Building Commissioners and Inspectors Association (MBCIA). The initial emphasis for this came from meetings the three associations used to have, which were called the Tri-Directors Meetings for lack of a better name. It was at these meetings where we came up with the idea to have a booth at the Mass Municipal Associations Annual meeting and trade show. We had the booth and we had cups with our logos and a professional brochure to hand out to Mayors, Managers and Town Administers. It was a very successful endeavor as it gave us a chance to show our professionalism and answer questions regarding certification and Codes. It is the hope of all three associations, that our concerns will be better served coming as a unified voice to the legislature and members of state government.
This year another milestone has been achieved. With the legislation passed to increase the membership on the Fire Prevention Board, The Fire Marshall selected and the Governor appointed, Past President and current Treasurer John Clancy, Inspector of Buildings, Burlington MA as the first Building Official to serve on this important board. This is the first step in forming a working relationship with the Fire Service’s that will enhance Public Safety throughout the Commonwealth.
The common theme throughout the years was the intent to provide leadership, educational opportunities, professionalism, and to promote good code development for all our members and for our cities and towns, and in the process enhance the image of all Building Official in Massachusetts. I believe we have accomplished this and the officers and members of MBCIA can be proud of their accomplishments.
Along the way, we have also had some fun. How many of you remember the “Ladies Day’s on the Cape”. Not politically correct today, but a lot of fun for those who attended. For some of our wives’, this was a day they looked forward to each year. More recently the association has sponsored and subsidized a family day at Canobie Lake Park, and Lowell Spinners Baseball games, which has been a huge success.
Some of you may remember that the association used to publish an annual book, with advertisements and a listing of Commissioners and Inspectors and the Officers of the Association. The income generated from that annual book was used to establish the start of our scholarship fund. The scholarship fund is one of the association’s proudest accomplishments and has been used as the model for other building official association’s scholarship programs. Proposed under the tutelage of President Sam DeSalvo this scholarship fund has awarded over $200,000.00 dollars to children, grandchildren and students of our Technical High Schools around the state. Each year we award these scholarships to the recipients at our annual Awards day meeting. The continuing funding of this scholarship program is made possible by our very successful Annual Golf Tournament and aggressive management of the available funds. This year was our 22nd year and again a huge success. An average of 120 golfer’s play each year and it is a great opportunity to invite our friends, contractors, business owners and associates, to play alongside with and share a day and in the process enrich our scholarship fund each year.
We established an Inspector of the Year Award, 17 years ago to honor one of our own who has distinguish him or herself in the conduct of their duties, contributions to MBCIA and honor to the profession. This award is given to a building official annually.
Now, I have not mentioned many names as I tried to address our accomplishments over the years. My timeline in this association is from 1980 on and I have had many mentors and in turn have mentored new members. Many have worked hard over the years to make this association what it is today. They left impressions on me and assisted me in how I dealt with the issues before me. Each president before and after me can say the same thing.
It is not possible for me to remember all of the people by name, who has served this association. With our current President Scott Lambiase, fifty five men have served as president, with untold members who have served as a director or on committees. I would like however to remember one especially, and that would be Pasqual “Pat” Pizzano, the godfather of this association. Pat was a State Inspector, who worked tirelessly to improve the status of building officials throughout this state. We are what we are today because of Pat and those who came before and after. We have been blessed to have had the leadership and the support of the membership in guiding this association from its beginning to the present day.
I feel it is important to mention these important accomplishments. While our founding fathers possessed extraordinary vision, the members and officers of this association over the years have carried out this vision and added to a legacy that we can all be proud of. The overriding theme today is that this association has provided outstanding leadership for the Building Officials of Massachusetts over the past 75 years and is held in high regard both in this State and at the National level. The future is bright, and the leadership is committed and ready to lead us into the next generation of Code Enforcement. I am proud to have been a member and officer in this Association and wish to thank the President for allowing me to write this history and recount some of the accomplishments of this fine Association.
Ronald W Wetmore