AHJ stands of the authority having jurisdiction. The AHJ is not a single entity. NFPA defines AHJ as “an organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure.” AHJs do not implement or publish new laws. Instead, the primary role of an AHJ is to enforce the locally adopted codes and standards in the jurisdiction. Additionally, some regulations and industry standards explicitly state the AHJ has the final say.
Unlike what most people believe, fire marshals and fire inspectors are not the only type of AHJ. Depending on jurisdiction and what type facility it is, the AHJ for a specific building may include:
- Local Government: the building department, the local fire department, etc.
- State Government: the state fire marshal and/or the state health department
- Federal Government: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS)
- Private Sector: insurance companies, third-party certifications or accreditation organizations
AHJs within these sectors may have a specialized areas, like plumbing or electrical systems, may also be present. For structural issues, the AHJ may be a building code inspector or an emergency management agency dedicated to health and public safety issues.
There is no database listing all possible AHJs but narrowing your search starts with categorizing your situation: mechanical, water, natural gas, food service, environmental harm, etc. You can also find more information by visiting your county’s agencies on the internet or contacting your local county commissioner’s office. To ensure your building will pass inspections from AHJ, do your research on NFPA codes that have been adopted in your state, county, or city.
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