For the last 17 years, commercial–and sometimes residential–building plans have required approval by Marana’s Senior Plans examiner Paul Froehlke. Anyone who has been in a Marana building that hasn’t fallen down, has had up-to-code fire exits or that has otherwise kept people safe probably has Froehlke to thank in some capacity.
Froehlke’s work was honored with the Don Cunningham Award for Arizona Plan Reviewer of the Year by the Arizona Building Officials. He received the award on July 26, at AZBO’s annual business meeting.
“It’s really quite an honor,” Froehlke said. “I really didn’t expect that.”
David Spurlock, Building Safety Manager for the Town of Marana, and one of two people who nominated Froehlke for the award, said that’s just the reaction he’d expect from his coworker.
“Even accepting awards, he’s just one of those guys that’s completely humble, doesn’t think he deserves it,” he said. “When, of course, it’s the least we could do for this guy.”
Froehlke, a licensed architect, said he’s been interested in putting things together and building since he was a kid. He earned his BA in architecture from Notre Dame in 1984, then headed out to Tucson to work at an architecture firm. After twelve years as an architect, he became a plans examiner for the town of Marana, and he said he’s glad he did.
“I’m exposed to, really, all facets of the building process,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot more as a result.”
For over a year, a recent staffing shortage meant that Froehlke was not only reviewing all of the commercial plans submitted to the town, but all residential plan submissions as well. He also acted as building official for several months.
“He often worked nights and weekends, never missing a plan review deadline,” said Dawn Jacob, development coordinator for the Building Safety Department in Marana, and the other person who nominated Froehlke for the award. “Our clients received the same excellent, dedicated service in our Building Department that they received before the changes.”
Spurlock also appreciated Froehlke’s willingness to go above and beyond.
“Paul stepped up to be a leader, not only for plans reviewers, but for this department as a whole,” he said. “Paul is not only just an overall good guy and the co-worker you want in the cubicle next door, but, coming in from the outside and being unsure what to expect, Paul really became someone I could rely on.”
Froehlke agreed that it had been a challenging year taking on the duties of several people, and that made the recognition by his peers especially meaningful. Despite the sometimes-demanding nature of the job, he said that being a plans examiner is rewarding in its own little ways every day. When he gives building designers feedback to get their designs up to code, he knows he is doing his part to keep buildings safe.
“You had a hand in that, in helping that person with that project to see it go forward,” he said. “I know the professionals I’ve worked with have been very thankful.”
While Froehlke’s hard work has meant a lot to his co-workers, he said that the feeling is mutual.
“I don’t do this alone,” he said. “We have a good team. It’s good people here. We bounce things off each other and work together.”