Cities@Work – Success Stories

Jim Dawson, City of Chandler Building Plans Examiner

Chandler - DawsonNone of us enjoyed getting our homework returned by the teacher tattooed with red ink, but sometimes it was warranted.  This scenario is repeated numerous times in the world of Construction Plan Review, and Jim Dawson is the guy wielding the red pen.

As a Building Plans Examiner, Jim pores over the construction plans of developers and builders to ensure they are designed in accordance with the International Building Code, Fire Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing Code, Energy Conservation Code, National Electric Code, Residential Code, and the Accessibility Design Access Guidelines that developed out of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Builders sometimes take issue with corrections being requested, but Jim’s grasp of the subject matter and reasoned demeanor usually wins out. And sometimes Jim doesn’t have to say a word, like the time a design consultant was upset with several ADA requirements and insisted on meeting personally with Jim. The consultant’s objections evaporated when Jim rolled his wheel chair into the lobby to greet him.

Jim has been paralyzed from the chest down and confined to a wheelchair since 2001 following a fall he took while on vacation in Canada. With his injury has come limited mobility and a greater reliance on others, especially his wife of 32 years, Tina. Before the accident, Jim was an active outdoorsman and traveled frequently while holding numerous jobs both in the United States and Canada. He has worked with Canada’s Department of Indian and Northern Affairs overseeing the infrastructure, housing and social service needs of numerous Native American communities in northern Alberta, Canada. He later owned his own construction company in his hometown of Kingston.

Meanwhile in Arizona he held jobs with Scottsdale and Gilbert, went into the home inspection business, and even operated a restaurant and bar in Mesa. He joined Chandler seven years ago and says he’s grateful to be working alongside many wonderful coworkers.

When asked about his life philosophy, Jim smiles and says, “I make a conscious mental decision each day to make it the best day I can possibly make it.”