State Rep: John Gioseffi, Broward Fire Equipment and Service Inc.
In the fall of 2012, Florida’s state fire marshal promulgated new rules for fire equipment dealers and permittees to clarify the 2010 statutory changes for continuing education. The new requirement is for sixteen hours of continuing education every two years, coinciding with the license and permit renewal period, for all license and permit holders. Of the sixteen total hours, a minimum of fourteen must be technical content. For license holders the other two hours must be a minimum of one hour business practices and one hour workers compensation. For permit holders the other two hours must be a minimum of one hour business practices and one hour workplace safety. The Florida Fire Equipment Dealers Association (FFEDA) developed training seminars to fulfill these new requirements and provided training for over one hundred license and permit holders in the last quarter of 2011.
2012 was a renewal year for all fire equipment dealers (license holders) and technicians (permittees) in the State of Florida. The state fire marshal handled the renewal process adequately, although there were some problems with their new computer system and the picture IDs they issued.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire Prevention, has also recently filled the position of safety program manager of the Bureau’s licensing and statistics section. Keith McCarthy has been with the State Fire Marshal’s Office since October 2000 in various positions and capacities. Mr. McCarthy assumed his new responsibilities, which includes licensing of all fire equipment dealers and sprinkler contractors in the State of Florida, in October of 2011.
FFEDA held a meeting at the Ocala State Fire College in February where representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation provided a very informative and well-received educational seminar. FFEDA’s next scheduled meeting will be the annual meeting, held June 8–10 at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami. This is the same golf resort that was recently purchased by Donald Trump and hosted the 2012 Cadillac World Golf Championship. At this annual meeting FFEDA will elect new board members and officers. NAFED has been extended an invitation to attend and participate in FFEDA’s annual meeting.
State rep: Daniel Laughlin, Pro-Tec Fire & Safety
Springtime in Georgia brings movement and change. Everything is covered in pollen as nature’s beauty comes to life; azaleas and dogwoods are coming to life all in full glory. Fire protection has some changes as well. Late last fall our previous Assistant State Fire Marshal Dwayne Garriss was officially appointed to fulfill the duties of state fire marshal. Dwayne has been very active in our industry, he even holds a current ICC/ NAFED portable extinguisher certification. Congratulations, Dwayne!
A recent proposed code change faces our industry in Georgia. A code amendment proposal was made to the Georgia Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Office. The change amends the International Fire Code (IFC) 907.4.4 to mandate electronic monitoring of fire extinguishers when a fire alarm is required. I understand that NAFED and others like our active state association, the Georgia Association of Fire Safety Equipment Dealers (GAFSED), are gearing up to respond to the proposal and its possible effects on both the life safety and the fire equipment industry. As we all return from spring vacations and head into the sweltering summer months, can we just do something about fuel prices!
State rep: Tom Farruggia, Illinois Fire & Safety Co.
House Bill 4479 (HB4479) is working its way through the Illinois legislative process. As of publication, the bill has passed the Illinois House and is working its way through the Senate. HB4479 seeks to modify the Illinois Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Act which licenses fire equipment distributors and their employees. The following is a summary of the key points of the bill:
- The bill would enable the state fire marshal to fine all licensees – both individual and distributor companies.
- The bill would set a maximum fine of $5,000 for each violation to any licensee.
- The bill provides for the appointment of a hearing officer by the state fire marshal to adjudicate disagreements.
- The bill would formally require NAFED certification in order to obtain a license to work on portable fire extinguishers, kitchen hood systems, and engineered systems.
- The bill would expand the certification requirements to include NAFED certification in pre-engineered industrial systems.
- The bill would eliminate the nine-member Illinois Fire Equipment Distributor and Advisory board.
The main issues of concern this legislation poses for NAFED members are as follows:
- The high dollar amount of the potential fines could be especially burdensome if issued on a per-violation basis, as proposed. What service technician could afford to pay a $5,000 fine for each internal maintenance that was overlooked, for example? And how many innocent technicians would leave the industry simply for fear of receiving such a devastating fine some time in the future?
Additionally, in reality, distributors may be issued all of the fines and forced to seek reimbursement from their guilty technicians. Seeking reimbursement for those fines from a guilty technician is nearly impossible to do legally in Illinois.
- The proposed elimination of the advisory board is a concern because the specific and extensive industry expertise of the individual board members is critical in order to gain agreement on interpretations and to bring reason to the table should agency proposals become excessive. In short, one of the advisory board’s main functions is to help ensure that distributors and their employees are treated fairly. Elimination of the board would remove this valuable safeguard.
You can track the progress of the bill by locating House Bill 4479 at this URL: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Tom Farruggia currently serves on the Illinois Fire Equipment Distributor and Advisory Board.)
State rep: Jeff Elliott, ABC Fire, Inc.
In 2004, the Iowa legislature authorized the Fire Extinguishing System Contractor Certification Program. It became Iowa Code 100C and became effective July 1, 2006, under Administrative Rule “661 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 275.”
Then in 2008 the Iowa legislature authorized the Fire Extinguishing System Installer and Maintenance Worker License Program. After several revisions from the first proposals, this licensing program became effective on October 1, 2010, under Administrative Rule “661 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 276.”
More recently, the fire marshal approved continuing education requirements for the fire extinguishing system installer and maintenance worker in order to maintain a license. These requirements can be found on the Iowa State Fire Marshal website at: http://www.dps.state.ia.us/fm/.
The Iowa State Fire Marshal has expressed interest in having the NAFED certification program approved for continuing ed also. I have been in contact with Norb to pursue this approval.
Also of interest to business owners in Iowa is a proposal introduced in the legislature this year. It is a proposal to require periodic review and reauthorization of programs such as the above certification and licensing. This proposal would serve as a review of these types of laws and rules to ensure they have indeed accomplished their intended purpose and are still serving the public good. If you have a view on this proposal you can contact your legislative representatives.
State rep: Pat Dillon, Simplex Grinnell
2012 is the third year that the Washington Fire Protection Association (WFPA) proposed legislation to license fire extinguisher contractors, kitchen hood contractors, and service technicians statewide and was turned down by state legislators. Despite wide support from the Washington State Fire Marshal Office, the Washington State Fire Marshals Association, and local city officials, the bill went down this year without any supporting testimony.
The senate committee called for a public hearing with just a two-hour notice during our largest snowstorm. The only testimony heard was from the sprinkler fitters union who opposed the legislation. The fitters are against the additional cost to license their membership who also service fire extinguishers.
Under the legislation, the Washington State Fire Marshal would provide licensing and enforcement. WFPA board of directors member Gary Cooper has worked tirelessly the last three years advocating the legislation. During previous years, testimony from industry and city fire marshals described the inability to keep companies and technicians who are doing unsafe work out of their jurisdiction. Giving notices of violation to the property owners is now the only way to correct bad work from unscrupulous companies and their employees.
In 2009 the WFPA was finally successful in deleting from the state law the International Fire Code (IFC) option to remove or eliminate fire extinguishers when quick response sprinkler heads are used.
The legislation will be back next year. Under the leadership of President Pat Shay, the WFPA is determined to overcome all obstacles and get it done!
State rep: Bob Leahey, Fire Protection Equipment Co., Inc.
The Virginia General Assembly—oldest governing body in the US—adjourned with no action regarding fire-related activities. Instead we made national news by removing our “one gun purchase a month” requirement and requiring an ultrasound prior to an abortion. Schools, law enforcement, transportation, jobs, etc., were minor concerns.
©2012 National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors, Firewatch! magazine June 2012. Reprinted with permission.