August, 2002
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

ASHI Continues Forging Alliances


As the voice of the home inspection profession, ASHI is responsible for building bridges both within the profession and with national organizations representing other professions.  

According to Stephen Preins, public relations committee chair, ASHI continues to expand and enhance alliances and partnerships with national organizations and to solidify relationships with state home inspector organizations.

Committee members Skip Kelley, Jesse Perry and Paul Staron are organizing and spearheading current activities, which are divided between these two initiatives.
Memorandums of Understanding are currently in place between ASHI and 11 state home inspection associations for the purpose of supporting mutually beneficial goals and activities. Referred to as the National Coalition of Home Inspector Associations (NCHIA), representatives from the organizations meet once a year to share ideas and explore ways to support mutual goals.

ASHI also has in place Memor-andums of Understanding, Partnership Agreements or informal relationships with a number of national organizations, such as the Red Cross, National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), Rebuilding Together (formerly “Christmas In April”), The Institute of Business Health and Safety (IBHS), AARST, International Code Commission  (ICC), National Association of Home Builders, and the Environ-mental Protection Agency (EPA).

Individual ASHI Members maintain the relationship between ASHI and each of these groups. For example, currently Bill Mason and Mark Cramer ensure dialogue occurs between IBHS and ASHI.  Kelley also serves as ASHI’s representative to the Red Cross. He filed the accompanying report after attending the Partners Meeting this spring.

Report on Partners Meeting

In May I had the honor to represent ASHI at the annual Partners Meeting of the American Red Cross Disaster Service held in Falls Church Va., just outside Washington D.C.

The flight from Boston was fine. US Air runs this flight every hour on the half-hour like a bus. Because of the events of Sept. 11, there were some new rules for all aircraft approaching Washington D.C., such as an order from the cockpit requiring passengers and crew to be seated and buckled in for the half-hour approach to the Reagan National Airport. This was okay. As we came within eyeshot of the Capitol, we could see the cranes hovering like hawks over The Pentagon, still under repair. This was okay. Taking a taxi from the airport to Falls Church Va. (also the site of J.A.G Headquarters), we had to drive around The Pentagon on a highway.

This was okay. The first thing we saw was the 10-foot high, chain-link barbed wire fence on both sides of the road. Still I was okay. Security is security. But low and behold, what was inside the fence in every direction? Gun emplacements, with armed solders, weapons drawn with their eyes glued to the skies and the surrounding area with binoculars. This was not okay – we were still at war.

Can you guess what was on the agenda at the Disaster Service meeting? Yes, disaster services, but more than natural disasters. For the first time, this annual meeting was based on the emergency preparedness of a nationwide, man-made disaster.

Approximately 60 of the 200 partner organizations were represented. There were representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), AT&T, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), AFL/CIO, and of course ASHI. All were committed to “Partner” with the American Red Cross, in both natural and unnatural disaster conditions. We listened to speakers from the Red Cross as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The Salvation Army, the Citizens Corps and the Department of Labor Office of the Disabled.

The day was long, often sad, but always interesting. Gregory L. Smith, interim director of external relations for the Red Cross, spoke first. He reminded us that Sept. 11 was a different disaster because it was national in scope, and it required different services than any previous disaster had required.

Some 35,000 volunteers, figuratively, showed up at the doorstep. How does an organization manage something like this? The skills of the volunteers were neither documented nor sorted. How do you manage that? Who’s going to train these volunteers on what to do? How can all the different knowledge bases act seamlessly with each other? Never before had the organization been challenged with an undertaking of this magnitude. Bottom line: everybody learned a lesson or two.

Armond Mascell, Red Cross senior director of responses, spoke next. For me, this was the highlight of the event. His factual input combined with information from Major David Dahlberg, national coordinator of disaster services for The Salvation Army, was truly an eye opener.  

From the National Red Cross alone, families directly affected by the events of Sept. 11, some 3,128 to be exact, have or will receive a year’s living expenses totaling approximately $45,000 per household. In addition, each family has or will receive a cash “gift” of approximately $70,000. Although 47 states have probate laws that slow things down, this should be done by Jan. 31, 2003. It is estimated that the total rehabilitation process may take 3-5 years. According to Major Dahlberg, the Salvation Army was planning to be at “Ground 0” until July 2002. Some 10,000 “soldiers” were there. Most of them worked with displaced persons at the two “attack” sites. At the time of the meeting, the Salvation Army had distributed $26,000,000 to the local people in New York and $4,000,000 to those in the D.C. area. He described this as being Phase I. Phase II, Stress Counseling, was scheduled to continue with about $36,000,000 in New York and $6,000,000 in D.C.

The last speakers of the morning session provided insight on the character of the American people. Larry Zensinger, director of FEMA’s recovery division, reported there were only nine people from FEMA at “Ground 0” at that time, and FEMA’s financial expenses had only been $60-70 million.

“A drop in the bucket,” Mr. Zensinger said.

If you add up the numbers from the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, $60 million doesn’t sound like much. And at that time it was far from over. The National Red Cross and the Salvation Army and other volunteer-based organizations had found a way not to rely on the federal financial assistance, which leads me to say, “God Bless America.”