BY BABU VARGHESE, PE, SI, CGC, CCC, FBPE Chair (2020)
I would like to begin by thanking Ken Todd, P.E., for serving as Chair of the Board for the past two years, as well as serving two full terms as a member of the Florida Board of Professional Engineers.
He has served on and chaired many of the Board’s committees before resigning at the end of 2019. I have had the pleasure of serving with Mr. Todd during both terms.
As a Chair, he is required to attend not only the FBPE board and committee meetings, but also NCEES national conferences and Florida Engineering Management Corporation’s meetings, all of which he did exceedingly well.
Ken has been fair to the applicants and licensees in his decisions, and along with his calmness has the ability to bring resolution to the sometimes spirited conversations. He has also volunteered to present talks at multiple universities on a regular basis. I can also attest to the fact that he helped new Board members make easy transitions into their roles.
The Board continues to adapt with the times, especially regarding new requirements and new rules that affect the practice of engineering in Florida. As most of you may know, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law House Bill 827, which went into effect on Oct. 1, 2019.
The Rules Committee, Board members, FBPE staff, and especially the Board’s general counsel, Lawrence Harris, have worked long hours for the past few months in revising the rules. These changes include:
- Permitting ETAC-ABET accredited engineering technology candidates to pursue licensure,
- Decoupling of the Principles & Practice of Engineering exam from the required engineering experience,
- Changing registration for the Fundamentals of Engineering and PE exams so that it is now done directly with NCEES,
- Elimination of Certificates of Authorization for engineering firms (firms must now register only once, with no fee, then be qualified by a PE), and
- Applications for licensure now include the ability to reinstate null-and-void PE licenses.
I encourage all of you to visit the FBPE website for more information.
Since six of the Board member positions have not been filled, the remaining five Board members are essentially working double duty. I sincerely thank all Board members for their diligence and continued support.
The Board is also in the process of implementing a solution to the ongoing problem regarding the Special Inspectors of Threshold Buildings License.
The Florida Building Commission issued a declaratory statement DS2014-061 a couple of years back, indicating that an existing threshold building undergoing concrete restoration or other repairs required threshold inspection. Since then, building officials across South Florida started requiring threshold inspections for all kinds of repair work involving a threshold building.
Dozens of engineers who had decades of experience found themselves out of work. Several engineers complained to the Board. Many others applied for the Special Inspectors license.
Though the Board sympathizes with these engineers, the Board was in fact helpless in solving this problem for the past two years due to the following reasons. The statute does not allow for a new category of Special Inspectors to perform just inspection of restoration work, nor can the Board lower the standards required for the Special Inspectors license, which is an important aspect of construction to ensure life safety.
House Bill 827, by amending Section 553.79, Florida Statutes, states that threshold buildings regardless of new construction, repair or restoration category, require the enforcing agency to have a special inspector. In order to accomplish requirements of this amendment, we have created a new class of licensure called “Special Inspectors of Threshold buildings (Limited),” also referred to as “Threshold Inspectors (Limited).”
The Threshold Inspector (Limited) will be able to perform inspections only on the restoration/repair of threshold buildings and is not permitted to inspect new construction of threshold buildings. The new application forms, along with the revised rules on Special Inspectors of Threshold buildings (Limited), will be available in the next couple of months.
Finally, we value your feedback and want to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Babu Varghese, PE, SI, CGC, CCC, is the president and principal engineer of Abtech Engineering Inc., a multi-disciplinary engineering firm, in Fort Lauderdale, which he founded in 1988. He has served on the Board since 2015, and was its vice chair in 2019.