Plumbing inspector takes ‘green’ approach to work

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Toby Cline is pictured completing paperwork at one site.

Palmetto Bay’s chief plumbing inspector Toby Cline, a resident who grew up in the area, decided to be a “spokes” person for the village’s “green” philosophy by riding his bicycle on the job.

Cline inspects newly installed and remodeled plumbing work done at residential and commercial locations, usually visiting from three to seven sites each day. Recently he decided to leave the car parked and use his bicycle to get to the work sites two days each week, and may shift it to three days.

“On a normal day I come in and have the plans and permits to issue, and then I have inspections after that,” Cline said. “Normally I just drive around and do the inspections. The village is not that big and my wife and I ride around a lot [on bicycles] so I thought if I can do it this way I can get my exercise, save money on gas and lower my carbon footprint here. So I go out and do my plumbing inspections by bike at people’s homes or businesses, and then go on to the next one.”

Cline said that he enjoys it a lot and that by biking around the village he gets to see people and interact with them on a more one-to-one basis than by just driving through in a car. Their reactions can be interesting, too.

“Some people look at me kind of funny when I pull up on a bicycle, but they do think it’s unique and that it’s a good idea,” Cline said. “It’s just my way of trying to keep up with what the village is trying to do. We’re trying to have more trees, beautify the parks and we’re trying to cut the carbon footprint with the new village hall.”

Cline, who has been with the village since November 2010, has a solid background in plumbing and contracting, and has been certified as a plans examiner and inspector. He has been an inspector since 1997 and has been in the plumbing business for almost 40 years. Before working for the Village of Palmetto Bay he worked for the county’s Building and Compliance Office for 10 years.

Edward Silva, director of the village’s Department of Building and Capital Projects, is pleased with the inspector’s approach.

“It ties in nicely with all the ‘green’ stuff that we’re doing,” Silva said. “It’s a nice statement. We’re doing it as a test right now to see if it works. Toby is pushing to do it full time. Right now it’s working and we’re getting very good positive feedback from people out there. When he shows up on a bicycle they think it’s a really neat idea and it ties in perfectly with the fact that our mayor, council and manager all want a ‘green’ village.”

The rainy season may affect how Cline schedules his bike routine, but he says he can be flexible about office time and on-site time. Plumbing inspections normally are done rain or shine anyway, and Cline said he won’t let a little rain deter him from his job, his new approach or from setting a good example.

“It just seems like the right thing to do,” Cline said. “Maybe this will give other guys in my field the idea. They could give it a try, too. If it puts that thought in place, why not do it?”


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