Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol, won the North American Inspectors Championship. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
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PITTSBURGH — For Sgt. Benjamin Schropfer of the Nebraska State Patrol, the hardest part about winning the North American Inspectors Championships wasn’t inspecting hazardous materials or bulk packaging.
It was, he said jokingly, “Sleeping in a hotel room with four girls.”
On Aug. 17, Schropfer was crowned Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s NAIC for 2019. His wife, Trina, and four daughters, ranging in age from 2 to 8, were at NAIC supporting him.
The championship featured 51 inspectors from the United States, Canada and Mexico. The competition culminated with a ceremony held in tandem with the National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships.
This is the fifth time that Schropfer has competed at NAIC, spanning more than a decade.
Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned
What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills
When: Aug. 14-17
The competition consists of a written test and several in-depth inspections. Inspectors must complete the North American Standard Level 1 Inspection, which includes a driver portion, vehicle inspection and inspection procedure. On the final day of competition, contestants had to complete an inspection covering hazardous materials, bulk packaging and passenger vehicles.
“The whole thing is challenging,” said Schropfer, 37. “No one thing is harder.”
NAIC officials and volunteers placed safety risks on and in vehicles used for competition.
Inspectors had 45 minutes to complete the written exam, which is offered in three languages. Competitors had 55 minutes to conduct the Level 1 Inspection (those conducting the inspection in a language other than English were allowed one hour for this portion).
“I am certified in everything, so theoretically I know how to do everything, but they make it so hard,” said Schropfer.
The hazardous materials and bulk packaging inspections had a time limit of 25 minutes. The passenger vehicle inspection was allotted 20 minutes, with a five-minute extension for those competing in a different language.
Benjamin Schropfer of the Nebraska State Patrol conducts an inspection exercise. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
“I am a hazmat instructor for our state and through the national training center and I really enjoy doing the hazmat,” said Schropfer.
He has been serving with the Nebraska State Patrol as an inspector since 2006.
All 51 North American Inspectors Championship contestants line the stage to be recognized. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
Before exams began, participants attended a number of training sessions, covering hours of service, hazardous materials, motorcoaches and documenting a violation. Special breakout sessions also were held for Mexico and Canada dangerous goods training.
This year marks the second year that NAIC has been held alongside NTDC. The ceremony was set up differently this year, straying from the traditional banquet style. The awards were handed out at a ceremony early in the evening and following the ceremony drivers and their families attended a reception that consisted of food, drinks, a DJ and lots of dancing.
The highest scorer from Mexico was inspector Gustavo Ruiz Alvarado of Policía Federal, and from Canada, Brittany Linde of the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Inspector Joshua Bradley of the Georgia Department of Public Safety won the John Youngblood Award of Excellence, an award that is voted on by fellow competitors. The Blue team took home the team trophy.
Awards were handed out for first, second and third place for three different inspections.
Linde, of the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, took home first for the North American Standard Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods and Cargo Tank/Bulk Packagings inspections.
Steven Kirkwood of the Maryland State Police was awarded first for the North American Standard Level V Passenger Carrier Vehicle Inspection.
The North American Standard Level I Inspection competition was won by Canada’s Delaney Malsbury, representing the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General.