Code Enforcement

A Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) is defined under 30-A MRSA § 4451 as a person employed by a municipality to enforce all enabling state laws and local ordinances in the following areas: shoreland zoning, land use regulation, internal plumbing, subsurface waste water disposal, and building standards. CEOs must be certified in each area for which they have responsibility within 12 months of their initial appointment date or of the date they assume responsibility for a given area.

Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) offers CEO and Local Plumbing Inspector (LPI) examinations at its Caribou office. CEOs must be certified by the State of Maine within one year of initial appointment in a municipality. CEOs must be certified in all areas of job responsibility in order to efficiently enforce municipal regulations or ordinances. Areas of job responsibility are determined by the CEO job description. For example, if a municipality has a building code, shoreland zoning, or a town-wide zoning ordinance, the CEO must obtain and maintain certification in each of those disciplines. Conversely, LPIs must be certified prior to appointment in a municipality.

The following are answers to commonly asked questions related to Code Enforcement Officer and Local Plumbing Inspector testing. The purpose of the training and certification program is to build and strengthen local capacity to administer and enforce new and existing ordinances. As a result of this emphasis, code enforcement has become more uniform across the state, to the benefit of municipalities and their residents. Coordinated management and administration of local ordinances and state statutes helps reduce municipal liability associated with enforcement. 

How do I become a certified Code Enforcement Officer (CEO)?

To become a CEO, you must pass the Legal Issues examination and at least one specialty certification area. Specialty certification areas include: Shoreland Zoning, Land Use and Zoning, Residential Building Code, Commercial Building Code, Residential Energy Code, Commercial Energy Code, Residential Ventilation Code, Commercial Ventilation Code, and Residential Radon Code.

Who administers the code enforcement program?

The Department of Public Safety-Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Office administers the Code Enforcement Officer training and certification program statewide. A CEO is defined as a person employed by a municipality to enforce all enabling state laws and local ordinances in the following areas: shoreland zoning, land use regulation, internal plumbing, subsurface wastewater disposal, and building standards.

CEOs must be certified in each area for which they have responsibility within 12 months of their initial appointment date or of the date they assume responsibility for a given area. 

In order to become a Local Plumbing Inspector, you must pass three examinations: Legal Issues, Internal Plumbing, and Subsurface Wastewater. There is no grace period. 

The State Fire Marshal contact is:

Richard McCarthy
Assistant Fire Marshal
52 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0052
Phone: (207) 626-3880
Fax: (207) 287-6251
Email: Richard.mccarthy@maine.gov

What does NMDC offer?

NMDC offers testing at our Caribou office with a couple of days’ notice from the registrant. Testing is free of charge for the first three attempts.

To register for an exam, contact Jay Kamm, Senior Planner, at (207) 493-5757 or jkamm@nmdc.org.  

What exams are offered?

The following exams are offered at NMDC:

  • Legal Issues: Covers legal authority of a Code Enforcement Officer, applicable laws and rules, structure and practice of the municipal code enforcement office, municipal planning board and appeals board procedures, application review and permitting procedures, inspection procedures, and enforcement techniques. This is the basic test and is required for all areas before becoming a Code Enforcement Officer or Local Plumbing Inspector.
  • Shoreland Zoning: Covers applicable state laws, state shoreland zoning guidelines, wetlands identification and delineation techniques, review and permitting, report procedure, and inspection and enforcement techniques.
  • Land Use Planning: Covers applicable local, state, and federal land use regulations, zoning, municipal planning board and appeals board procedures, floodplain management, state subdivision law, site plan review, review and permitting, report procedure, and inspection and enforcement techniques.
  • Internal Plumbing: Covers State of Maine Plumbing Code, applicable laws, plumbing practices, application review and permitting report procedure, and inspection and enforcement techniques. Required to pass before becoming a Local Plumbing Inspector.
  • Subsurface Wastewater Disposal (also referred to as External Plumbing): Covers State of Maine Subsurface Wastewater Disposal Rule, applicable laws, soils and site evaluation, review and permitting, report procedure, and inspection and enforcement techniques. Required to pass before becoming a Local Plumbing Inspector.
  • Building Standards: Consists of the seven (7) individual codes within the building standards specific area: residential building code, commercial building code, residential energy code, commercial energy code, indoor residential ventilation code, indoor commercial ventilation code, and residential radon code. Each covers the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, code purposes and organization, applicable state laws, review and permitting, report procedure, occupancy approval requirements, and inspection and enforcement techniques. Each area is its own certification consisting of exam and training. CEOs have to only be certified in the area that they are to enforce.
How are the exams structured?

Exams consist of two parts, a multiple choice section and a case study. All exams are open book so make sure to bring training materials with you for the exams covered. 

NOTE: NMDC does not have training materials available for applicants. It remains the applicant’s responsibility to bring all training materials.

How many exams can be taken at one time?

Up to three (3) exams can be taken at any one time. We recommend that fewer are taken, as these exams thoroughly test the applicant’s knowledge of the given subject and can be time consuming.

Is there a time limit for each exam?

Yes. There is a three (3) hour maximum time limit on any exam. We strongly recommend that you do not schedule an exam after 2:00 PM.

What is the process?

As stated above, contact NMDC early to ensure that both the exam and space are available. All you need to bring to NMDC are your training materials. Once you complete your exam(s), NMDC sends them to the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) for grading. You will be notified of your grade by DECD staff. Grading results can take up to a month depending on the workload of DECD staff. NMDC is not typically notified of an applicant’s score.

Where do I get the training materials?

A good source of information and the training manuals are located at the following link:

https://www.maine.gov/decd/community-development/code-enforcement/publications