One thing to remember when the AHJ is a municipal/state/government entity- code officials cannot simply make up their own rules. It's mentioned in the report of an instance where an AHJ preferred a certain type/brand of electric strike. If a standard (I.E. Life Safety Code) is adopted by force of law then the AHJ cannot create rules where none exist regardless of his/her hobbies and beliefs. One thing I've had success with is to ask respectfully to have the AHJ show me where in the code it says to do what they are requiring. I frame it as a way for me to learn so I won't make the mistake again. Of course, many times the extra cost is borne by the customer so what you really want to do is to guide the customer to ask the question. When forced to justify their requirements, often they see the error of their ways and back down. Keep in mind that AHJ's have significant leeway due to code language but the fact remains that they can't simply make up their own rules. They do this because past experience has taught them that they can as they are rarely challenged because no one wants to be on their bad side but there are ways to reason it out and not just buckle under their 'authority'.
Access Control AHJ Nightmares
For access control jobs, a single person can be the difference between finishing a job, costing thousands in extra dollars, and being profitable and safe for all. That person carries the title 'Authority Having Jurisdiction', commonly just 'AHJ' (see our tutorial).
In IPVM's Access Control courses, students share real world situations where the AHJ has significantly bottled up job progress due to oversight, lack of communication, or just plain confusion. Over the span of multiple courses, three common trouble areas emerged:
- Safe Egress Concerns
- Use of Conduit For Cabling
- Fire-Rated Door Concerns
Several members also shared their best tips for preventing AHJ issues and how to avoid costly changes that ruin job profitability. We examine those points inside.
They do this because past experience has taught them that they can as they are rarely challenged because no one wants to be on their bad side but there are ways to reason it out and not just buckle under their 'authority'.
So true. There is a way to respectfully challenge the AHJ. They may be the authority having jurisdiction, but their word is not law, as you have said. Unless of course they are directly quoting code.
One anecdote I use often is one of the inspectors where I live in a specific rural area liked to make up his own rules. Nothing we did for managing cabling vertically met his approval. Finally we had some one ask what he wanted us to use. He dodged the question for years, but kept dinging us with what ever we tried. To his point some of the items we used weren't rated for that use, like two hole emt/bx clips, etc. They are meant for conduit or BX, not to be bent in half to secure cabling. But he didn't even like us using J-Hooks.
Anyway, he finally gets back to us with a recommended grommeted clip or something. We look it up and it's only rated for automotive use, not residential, commercial or industrial. Automotive. One of our bosses reached out to his boss and the inspector didn't raise the issue anymore after that, and then soon moved to a different rural area that we didn't do a lot of work in. I think the move was unrelated, they shifted around periodically
We take good measures to stay on the positive side of an AHJ. We get them involved early. Very recently, an AHJ performing a final inspection insisted we install a power supply for locks that had an approved cord and strain relief installed by the manufacturer. Our normal off the shelf power supplies require us to install a cord and strain relief. We have done it for 30 years. So does everyone else I know. He would not approve the install, which means the customer can't get a CO, and they can't open their doors. When I called Altronix, they were very sheepish but concluded the inspector's interpretation was correct. Frankly, they already knew it; I have a lot of questions for them but we bought a new power supply with a factory-installed cord and strain relief. Passed with no issues.