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Division of Building Safety (DBS) History

December 2010

The Division of Building Safety's regulatory mandate originates in the Idaho State Constitution. In 1899, the Bureau of Immigration Labor and Statistics was established to comply with Section 1, Article 13 of the state constitution. A commission was appointed by Governor Frank Steunenberg to direct the Bureau in its primary function of gathering information about labor in Idaho. This Bureau was eliminated in 1919. In 1949, an act was passed creating the Idaho Department of Labor. In 1955, the Minimum Wage and Minimum Payment Laws were passed.

The Idaho Department of Labor and Industrial Services, created as one of 20 executive agencies under the Reorganization Act of 1974, combined the functions of several agencies responsible for public safety. At the time, there were five such agencies: the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Mines, the Idaho State Electrical Board, the Idaho Plumbing Board, and the Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle and Manufactured Housing Division of the Department of Law Enforcement. The legislature eliminated the Bureau of Mines in 1979 and terminated the Department of Law Enforcement's responsibility for mine safety in 1980. A logging safety program was added to promote logging safety and perform safety inspections.

The Idaho State Electrical Board was created by the legislature in 1947 in response to industry concern over a lack of regulations and safety in electrical installations statewide. The enabling legislation provided that anyone working as an electrical contractor or journeyman must hold a certificate of competency. The act was amended in 1955 to require inspections to ensure that electrical installations in Idaho were in compliance with the National Electrical Code. An apprenticeship program was created in 1986.

The Idaho Plumbing Board was created by the legislature in 1957. The act required both the licensing of plumbers and the inspection of plumbing systems to ensure compliance with the National Plumbing Code of the American Standards Association.

The Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Act required that mobile homes and recreational vehicles be built according to reasonable safety standards and that each unit be inspected and approved before being offered for sale in Idaho. A 1972 amendment to this act required structural inspections. The Idaho Manufactured Home Licensing and Bonding program was created by a law passed in the 1988 legislative session. It required all manufactured home professionals to be licensed and bonded. This program also established statewide minimum installation standards and provided consumer protection. 1990 saw creation of the Idaho Residential Energy Standard, requiring self-certification for single-family residential dwellings.

In 1975, the Idaho Building Code Advisory Act required that all new construction be inspected for compliance with a number of building codes. This act was amended in 1977 to provide that the adoption of and inspection and enforcement of the Uniform Building Code Advisory Act be optional for county and city governments.

In 1996, the Idaho Legislature moved the Wage and Hour program from the Department of Labor and Industrial Services and, effective July 1,1996, renamed the program the Division of Building Safety.

On July 1,2000, the Public Works Contractor Licensing Board was combined with DBS.

Executive Order 2001-06, signed by Governor Dirk Kempthorne in 2001, moved the Energy Codes and Standards program from the Department of Water Resources to DBS.

Effective April 14,2004, the Idaho Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Board was established within the Division of Building Safety. The HVAC program was created to ensure that installation of HVAC systems complies with industry codes and standards and that installers are licensed.

On July 1, 2004, the Elevator Safety Code Act became effective. This act established a self-funded elevator inspection program administered by the Division of Building Safety. Although previously administered by DBS, this program had previously been funded by the Idaho Industrial Commission.


Statutory Authority

Statutory authority for the Division of Building Safety is set forth in Idaho Code, Section 67-2601(d).


Purpose

The purpose of the Division is to provide for the health and safety of the public with regard to compliance with building and safety code requirements, licensing of public works contractors, and to provide information and services to all Idaho citizens in an efficient and effective manner.


Organization

The Division is organized into five safety programs, each with a designated program manager, and an administrative section.  The administrative section provides administrative, fiscal, personnel and, secretarial services to all of the Divisions programs.  Legal services are provided to DBS by the Idaho Attorney General’s office.

The various safety programs within DBS include:

  • The Electrical Program and the Plumbing Program license electricians and plumbers, issue permits, approve plans, and conduct code compliance inspections.
  • The Building Program checks plans, performs in-plant inspections of manufactured homes and prefabricated modular structures, conducts HUD manufactured home dealer lot inspections, and investigates consumer complaints.
  • The Industrial and Logging Safety Program inspects state, school district and county/city facilities (by request) to ensure safe working conditions; manages the statewide elevator certification program; and provides first aid and safety training for loggers, logging contractors and supervisors.
  • The Public Works Contractor Licensing Program licenses contractors, subcontractors and construction managers for public works construction.

Each program is directed by an advisory board whose members come primarily from the industry it serves.

  • The Damage Prevention Board consists of eleven members appointed to four-year terms.
    (Title 55, Chapter 22, Idaho Code)

  • The Factory Built Structures Advisory Board consists of eight members appointed to three-year terms.
    (Title 39, Chapter 43, Idaho Code)

  • The Idaho Electrical Board consists of nine members appointed to four-year terms and represents all facets of the electrical industry.  The board establishes fees for permits and advises the administrator on policies.
    (Title 54, Chapter 10, Idaho Code)

  • The State Plumbing Board is made up of five members appointed to three-year terms. The board advises the administrator with regard to rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of the plumbing code and sets permit fees.
    (Title 54, Chapter 26, Idaho Code)

  • The Idaho Building Code Board consists of ten members appointed to four-year terms. The board advises the administrator on matters involving building codes and acts as an appeals board for interpretation of those codes.
    (Title 39, Chapter 41, Idaho Code)

  • The Factory Built Structures Advisory Board Members consists of eight members appointed to three-year terms.
    (Title 54, Chapter 39, Idaho Code)

  • The Public Works Contractors Licensing Board consists of seven members serving three-year terms, for up to two terms.  The board advises the administrator with regard to rules and regulations necessary to carry our the provisions of the Public Works Contractors License Code.
    (Title 54, Chapter 50, Idaho Code)

  • The Idaho Heating, Air conditioning and Ventilation (HVAC)Board is comprised of seven members serving two-year terms. The board advises the administrator regarding rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of applicable codes and sets permit fees.
    (Title 54, Chapter 50, Idaho Code)

  • The Logging Safety Program was created by the 1987 legislature to work toward reducing the frequency and severity of accidents in an industry where there exists very little control over the workplace environment.  This program provides first aid and safety training to logging contractors and sawmill operators and offers specialized on-the-job training upon request.

  • The School Safety & Security Advisory Board consists of eight members appointed to three-year terms.


Funding

Electrical Board Fund (54-1015, I.C.) - This fund receives fees for electrical inspections, permits and licenses. It is used to ensure safe installation and use of electricity in Idaho.

Idaho Building Code Fund (39-4124, I.C.) - This fund receives fees for inspections, plan review and certifications. The fund is used to ensure that manufactured homes, modular prefabricated structures and site-built structures are constructed in accordance with either federally-adopted or Idaho-adopted construction and safety standards. This fund is also used to administer the asbestos industry accreditation program and the Mobile Home Rehabilitation Act.

Idaho Plumbing Board Fund (54-2630, I.C.) - This fund receives fees for plumbing inspections, permits and licenses. The fund is used to ensure correct installation and service work involving plumbing fixtures.

Manufactured Housing Fund (44-2104, I.C.) - Created concurrently with the establishment of the Manufactured Housing Board, this fund receives fees for manufactured housing licenses issued to manufacturers, retailers, sales representatives, brokers, and service companies.

Public Works Contractors License Fund (54-1921, I.C.) - This fund receives fees from licensing public works contractors, builders, subcontractors, specialty contractors, and construction managers engaged in public works projects. It is used to administer and enforce provisions of the Public Works Contractors License Act (54-45, I.C.).

Idaho Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Board Fund (54-5024, I.C.) - This fund receives fees from HVAC inspections, permits and licenses. It is used to ensure correct installation and work involving HVAC fixtures and systems.

Idaho Elevator Safety Fund (39-8623, I.C.) - This fund receives fees from elevator registration, inspections and renewal fees. It is used to ensure that elevators in Idaho are properly installed and maintained to code specifications through a five-year periodic inspection program.

Federal Fund - This fund receives federal money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for monitoring to ensure that manufactured home builders and dealers operate in compliance with HUD enforcement standards. The program also investigates consumer complaints.

Miscellaneous Revenue Fund - This fund receives money from the Idaho Industrial Commission for safety inspections of state and school district buildings and, by request, buildings owned by local government entities to ensure safe working conditions. The fund also provides safety training to logging industry personnel with the goal of reducing accidents. Funds are also received from the Institute for Building Technology and Services (IBTS) to fulfill the requirements of the HUD monitoring program and from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) to finance programs that develop, promote, implement, and enforce energy codes and standards for commercial and residential buildings.

Past Directors/
Administrators

Dept of Law Enforcement
  • Wayne Summers, Commissioner
    9/1951 - 7/1953
  • Earle E. Kohler, Commissioner
  • E.R. Hopper, Commissioner
    7/1959 - 2/1967
  • Warner C. Mills, Director
    7/1955 - 1/1967
Dept of Labor & Industrial Services
  • Bartlett R. Bown, Director
    7/1974 - 7/1975
  • Robert Kinghorn, Director
    4/1977 - 4/1979
  • Sam Nettinga, Director
    7/1979 - 7/1980
  • Gary Gould, Director
    1984 - 1994
  • Robert Purcell
    1995 - 9/1995
  • J. Michael Brassey, Director
    10/1995 - 12/1995
Division of Building Safety
  • Joe W. Hunter, Administrator
    10/1995 - 3/1999
  • Dave Munroe, Administrator
    3/1999 - 11/2005
  • John McAllister, Administrator
    11/2005 - 1/2007
  • C. Kelly Pearce, Administrator
    1/2007 - 12/2016
  • Chris Jensen, Administrator
    1/2017 - Present