Testing, inspection bill moves through House

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Saturday, March 1, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - A bill that calls for the certification of fire sprinkler testing and inspection technicians is making its way through the Utah legislature and is expected to become law with little opposition, according to industry officials.

At press time, HB47, which would only apply to commercial or other public sprinkler systems, had been passed by the House and was waiting for approval from the state senate.

“There is good support in the industry for this bill,” said Michael Durst, regional manager - Mountain region for the National Fire Sprinkler Association, a trade group representing sprinkler contractors. “Most people in the industry doing good work want to see some form of professional certification.”

The introduction of the bill follows Utah’s 2002 adoption of the International Fire Code, which requires that all fire systems be test annually. A similar version of the certification bill was shot down in Utah’s last legislative session because of political discourse between elected officials, Durst said. That version died on the house floor.

Previously, the state’s certified inspectors included those who charged fire extinguishers, Durst said, technicians not necessarily familiar with sprinkler systems.

A committee, including representatives from the state fire marshal’s office, will meet to determine criteria for the certification, which will include requirements from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering or an equivalent, Durst said.

If signed into law by Gov. Mike Leavitt, the bill would be administered by the state Fire Marshal’s office. Classes for the certification, which would be renewed every four years, would cost $30 with a $20 testing fee and would be taught through the state fire academy at Utah Valley State College.

Durst said states looking to track and regulate sprinkler companies and sprinkler installations elect to do one of three things: register companies and installations, certify technicians and companies or license sprinkler contractors.

Legislators in Illinois in December approved a licensure program for sprinkler contractors in that state, making it the 38th state to approve such a program.