Wanted: Vengeful Saint with Building Experience for Code Enforcement Position

A local town’s want ad for a code enforcer points to extremely high (and low) expectations for a sometimes thankless job.

The job posting below for an assistant code enforcement inspector in Maine came up in our LinkedIn feed this morning. It’s no longer listed on the city employment website, so it may have been filled last week. Nonetheless, it offers an eye-opening look at the expectations for a code officer in a small municipality in 2018.

What’s striking about this job application is that it alternates between extremes. On the one hand, you don’t need to a college education for eligibility. You only have to be able to lift 25 pounds, and “use your hands to feel objects.” But at the other end of the spectrum, you’re supposed to have the equivalent of a PhD in social relations:  “Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to establish effective working relationships with owners, tenants, property managers and other city officials under adverse or strained conditions.”

I don’t know many people who can handle that tall order. As you read through this long and fascinating list of duties, potential duties and expectations, the subtext that comes through is one of a high-stress job where you’re often going to have to act as an assistant “bouncer” to deal with difficult, sometimes dangerous people. On the other hand, you’re going to spend some time in the courtroom as an expert witness, trying to get bad actors to change their behavior. And through it all, you’re expected to be calm, courteous and not lose your mind—or your s#$t—no matter how bad the tempers or the building conditions you encounter.

Assistant Code Enforcement Officer

City of Westbrook, Maine

Job description

Basic Purpose & Function 

This position will serve in a variety of critical roles in support of code enforcement, law enforcement and general assistance.   Position reports to the Director of Planning and Code Enforcement, and day to day work will be directed by the Master Code Enforcement Officer.

The position will be the City’s principal investigator of problem properties throughout the City and will enforce relevant state statutes and local ordinances, sections of the International Property Maintenance Code if adopted, in an effort to identify and resolve dangerous buildings, junk yards and other nuisance properties.

The position will also assist law enforcement with follow up on disorderly houses as defined by City Ordinance; will serve as a liaison with Westbrook Housing on issues of mutual concern; and will supplement the day to day work of our code enforcement officer, especially in the area of multi-family life safety inspections and licensing.

The position will assist our General Assistance office on issues of suspected welfare fraud and abuse as needed.

Primary Duties & Responsibilities (Illustrative Only)

Inspects housing units to insure compliance with minimum standards for safety and health.

Proactively identifies and investigates problem properties in the city

Investigates neighborhood nuisance complaints

Investigates dangerous building complaints

Investigates junkyard complaints

Investigates recurring complaints involving subsidized housing

Investigates disorderly houses as identified by local law enforcement

Inspects living units in specific areas to assess overall condition of area housing, or to identify those requiring repair

Prepares accurate inspection/investigative reports that summarize general conditions and documents corrective action to be taken

Holds informal hearings with owners/managers to make them aware of problems and seek voluntary compliance with corrective action plans

Prosecutes housing violations civilly in cooperation with the City Attorney, or criminally in cooperation with the District Attorney’s Office

Conducts inspections of victualers licenses for businesses.

Assists Code Enforcement as needed

Assists Westbrook Public Safety Departments as needed

Assists Westbrook General Assistance Office as needed

Assists Westbrook Housing as needed

Performs related work as directed by the Director of Planning and Code Enforcement.

Education, Training & Experience

Some college level education is preferred.

Eligibility for required licenses or certifications within 6 months of appointment. Certifications currently held may be given higher preference.

Prior experience with enforcement, investigations, and report writing. General knowledge of building construction and maintenance trades. Prior experience investigating and enforcing building codes, welfare fraud and nuisance complaints is preferred.

Any equivalent combination of education, training and experience that meets the following requirements:

Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities  

Some knowledge of building construction, materials, methods and stages of construction.

Knowledge of methods and techniques for conducting inspections and investigations.

Knowledge and ability to properly interpret state statutes, building codes and ordinances.

Ability to communicate effectively, orally and in writing, and the ability to follow through on jobs to their completion.

Ability to complete difficult inspection work and to deal fairly and effectively with the public.

Ability to recognize any condition hazardous to health and safety and to determine appropriate corrective measures.

Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to establish effective working relationships with owners, tenants, property managers and other city officials under adverse or strained conditions.

Basic to intermediate skill and proficiency in necessary computer software/applications.

Must possess a valid State of Maine driver’s license and maintain a clean driving record.

State Certifications to be possessed within 6 months of appointment.

Ability and willingness to successfully complete any necessary training and maintain certifications.

To attain 80K certification within 6 months of appointment.

Physical and Mental Requirements 

The physical and mental demands described are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this class. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. 

  • Physical Demands:  While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to stand; walk; use hands to feel objects, tools, or controls; stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; and talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to reach with hands and arms. The employee is occasionally required to sit and climb or balance. Sufficient speech and hearing is necessary to be able to communicate effectively by phone and in person.

The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 lbs. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, and color vision.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee regularly works in outside weather conditions and is regularly exposed to various types of weather conditions. The employee occasionally works near moving mechanical parts and is occasionally exposed to fumes. Office and inspection site environment; exposure to dust and noise; some climbing, stooping, light lifting and inspecting in confined areas.

  • Mental Demands: While performing the duties of this class, the incumbent is regularly required to use written and oral communication skills; observe and interpret situations; read and interpret data, information and documents; analyze and solve complex problems; use math and mathematical reasoning; perform highly detailed work under changing, intensive deadlines, on multiple concurrent tasks; work with constant interruptions; and interact with staff, officials and the public.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and city application to Casey Provost in Human Resources by March 8, 2018. Apply to City of Westbrook, Maine on their website