BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 433
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          Date of Hearing:   April 2, 2013

                              Richard S. Gordon, Chair
                 AB 433 (Gordon) - As Introduced:  February 15, 2013
          SUBJECT  :   Contractors: fire protection systems. 

           SUMMARY  :   Authorizes licensed plumbing contractors to install  
          residential fire protection systems for single- and two-family  
          homes, and makes other technical and clarifying amendments.

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Provides for the licensing and regulation of construction  
            contractors by the Contractors' State License Board (CSLB)  
            within the Department of Consumer Affairs. (Business and  
            Professions Code [BPC] Section 7000, et seq.) 

          2)Requires the installation of a fire protection system,  
            excluding an electrical alarm system, to be performed only by  
            contractor holding a fire protection contractor classification  
            as defined in CSLB regulations or by an owner-builder of an  
            owner-occupied, single-family dwelling, as specified, if the  
            local authority approves and inspects the installation. (BPC  

          3)Authorizes a plumbing contractor to perform work, as  
            specified, to provide for a supply of safe water, ample in  
            volume and of suitable temperature for the purpose intended  
            and the proper disposal of fluid waste from the premises in  
            all structures and fixed works. (California Code of  
            Regulations, Title 16, Division 8, Article 3, Section 832.36) 

          4)Requires the State Fire Marshal (SFM) to adopt and administer  
            regulations and building standards in order to establish and  
            control a program for servicing, testing, and maintaining all  
            automatic fire extinguishing systems, including, but not  
            limited to, fire sprinkler systems.  (Health and Safety Code  
            Section 13195) 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    None.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the  
          Legislative Counsel.


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           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Purpose of this bill  .  The California Building Standards Code  
            (Code) requires fire protection systems to be installed in all  
            new single- and two-family homes, beginning January 1, 2011.   
            This bill aims to expand the pool of licensed contractors who  
            can install residential fire sprinklers under the new Code  
            requirements by authorizing licensed plumbing contractors to  
            perform residential installations in addition to the licensed  
            fire protection contractors currently authorized to do the  
            work.  This bill is sponsored by the California Building  
            Industry Association (CBIA).

           2)Author's statement  .  According to the author, "The [Code]  
            requirement increased the need for residential fire sprinkler  
            design and installation, but did not increase access to  
            professionals that can legally provide the service.  Existing  
            law provides that the installation of a fire protection system  
            may only be performed by a contractor holding a C-16 fire  
            protection contractor license, or by an owner-builder of an  
            owner-occupied single-family dwelling. 

            "Fire sprinkler systems for single- and two- family homes are  
            relatively easy to design and install in comparison to larger,  
            more complex structures, and commercial buildings.  In  
            addition, many of the sprinkler systems that will be installed  
            in new single- and two-family dwellings are multipurpose fire  
            sprinkler systems that supply water to both fire sprinklers  
            and the residential plumbing fixtures from the same domestic  
            water supply, as opposed to stand-alone fire sprinkler systems  
            that are independent from the water distribution system.   
            Plumbing contractors can often easily install multipurpose  
            systems using the same tubing, fittings, and tools that they  
            already use to plumb a house." 

           3)Specialty contractor classifications  .  The CSLB issues  
            licenses to contractors in particular trades or fields of the  
            construction profession.  In order to be eligible for a  
            contractor's license, an applicant must have four years of  
            experience at a journey level or as a foreman, supervising  
            employee, contractor, or owner-builder to qualify to take the  
            examination.  The CSLB issues one Class "A" General  
            Engineering Contractor License, one Class "B" General Building  
            Contractor License, and 41 separate Class "C" Specialty  
            Contractor Licenses. 


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            Class "C" specialty contractor classifications are issued to  
            contractors whose construction work requires special skill and  
            whose principal contracting business involves the use of  
            specialized building trades or crafts.  A specialty contractor  
            may use subcontractors, or his or her own employees, to  
            complete the incidental and supplemental work.  CSLB  
            promulgates regulations relating to the scope of practice of  
            specialty contractors.  While there are multiple specialty  
            plumbing contractors who deal with the conveyance of water,  
            liquids, sewage, chemicals, and gas through pipes, tubes, or  
            evaporation, there are only two specialty plumbing contractors  
            whose scope of work directly relates to the installation of  
            residential fire sprinklers:  
             a)   A C-16 fire protection contractor lays out, fabricates  
               and installs all types of fire protection systems,  
               including all the equipment associated with these systems,  
               excluding electrical alarm systems. C-16 fire protection  
               contractors are currently authorized to install residential  
               sprinkler systems. 

             b)   A C-36 plumbing contractor provides a means for a supply  
               of safe water, ample in volume and of suitable temperature,  
               for the purpose intended and the proper disposal of fluid  
               waste from the premises in all structures and fixed works.  
               C-36 plumbing contractors would be authorized by this bill  
               to install residential sprinkler systems.
            4)New Code requirement and demand for residential fire sprinkler  
            installations  .  In 2010, the California Building Standards  
            Commission adopted a new Code requirement that approved the  
            SFM's Building, Fire and Residential Code and mandated the  
            installation of residential fire sprinklers in all new one-and  
            two-family dwellings and townhouses statewide, beginning  
            January 1, 2011.  Rural counties report having a difficult  
            time complying with the new Code requirement because of the  
            relatively small number of C-16 fire protection contractors  
            scattered throughout the state, with no known C-16 fire  
            protection contractors residing in some rural counties. 
            According to the Construction Industry Research Board, in  
            2004, there were approximately 212,960 new residential single-  
            and multi-family homes built in California.  In 2009, the  
            number of new homes built dropped to a record low of 36,421,  


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            but has since been gradually climbing.  In 2013, the projected  
            number of new homes that will be built is 62,000 homes and is  
            anticipated to rise in the future, which will create increased  
            demand for residential fire sprinkler installation.  

           5)Current licensed contracting authority to install residential  
            fire sprinklers  .  Currently, there are approximately 230,000  
            licensed contractors in the state of California.  According to  
            the CSLB, as of February 2013, there were 2,148 active C-16  
            fire protection contractors.  This bill would authorize the  
            15,090 active C-36 plumbing contractors in California to  
            install residential fire sprinklers and ensure that is more  
            than enough licensed contractors who can legally perform the  
            installations to meet new Code requirements.  

            Under existing law, only a licensed Class C-16 fire protection  
            contractor or owner-builder may install a residential  
            sprinkler system.  At the same time, only a licensed C-36  
            plumbing contractor can perform work on residential plumbing  
            systems to distribute potable and non-potable water, at  
            varying temperatures and volumes, to and from a residence.   
            One could read BPC Section 7026.12 literally as prohibiting a  
            plumbing contractor from installing a multipurpose fire  
            sprinkler system, even though such a system incorporates  
            plumbing fixtures.  This bill would explicitly authorize a  
            C-36 plumbing contractor to install a multipurpose fire  
            sprinkler system in residential homes in addition to a C-16  

           6)History of residential fire sprinklers in California  .  
            Automatic fire sprinklers are designed to minimize the loss of  
            life and property arising from a fire by releasing water at a  
            certain temperature to contain fire growth, limit fire damage,  
            provide enough time for evacuation, and generally protect  
            residents, firefighters, and the structure.  
             For many years, the installation of fire sprinkler systems was  
            only required in office buildings and multi-family dwellings  
            (i.e., apartments).  Efforts to legislate the installation of  
            residential fire sprinklers date back to 1979, when SCR 23  
            (Campbell) requested the SFM to develop voluntary standards  
            for the design, installation, and maintenance of automatic  
            fire sprinkler systems for single- and two-family dwellings.

            In 1980, the City of San Clemente became the first  


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            municipality to adopt an ordinance mandating the installation  
            of residential fire sprinklers in new residences.  San  
            Clemente's Fire Chief Ronny Coleman said the ordinance's goal  
            was "to apply water so as to confine the blaze to the room of  
            origin during the first ten minutes of the fire's growth and  
            development, and to keep temperatures low enough to prevent  
            flashover."  From 1980 to 2010, over 150 local residential  
            fire sprinkler ordinances were adopted.  During that period,  
            the California Legislature discussed, but did not enact  
            legislation to mandate the installation of residential fire  

           7)Effects of this bill .  This bill adds 15,090 C-36 plumbing  
            contractors to the pool of 2,148 C-16 fire protection  
            contractors who can be hired to install residential fire  
            sprinklers.  The CSLB will continue to be the appropriate  
            licensing entity that receives and investigates consumer and  
            professional complaints, and provides enforcement action  
            against unlicensed contracting activity arising from the  
            installation of residential fire protection systems.  Because  
            it oversees both C-36 and C-16 contractors, the CSLB will be  
            able to monitor the effects of this bill on both  

           8)Arguments in support  .  According to the sponsor, CBIA, "For  
            two decades, California law has required the installation of a  
            fire sprinkler system to be performed by a 'fire protection  
            contractor' holding a specialty C-16 contractor's license.   
            Considering the level of technical expertise needed to design  
            and install these systems in high-rise residential and  
            commercial buildings, the requirement for a specialty license  
            was appropriate. 

            "However, in 2010, the California Building Standards  
            Commission adopted building standards requiring fire sprinkler  
            systems in all new homes starting January 1, 2011.  Given that  
            there are only 2,100 licensed C-16 fire protection contractors  
            throughout the state, builders will not have access to an  
            adequate supply of licensed individuals to perform this work  
            as the housing sector begins to emerge from the worst economic  
            downturn in over 60 years.

            "Fire sprinkler systems for single- and two-family dwellings  
            are relatively easy to design and install in comparison to  
            those installed in high-rise residential and commercial  


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            buildings.  A C-36 licensed plumbing contractor has the  
            knowledge and experience necessary to install fire sprinkler  
            systems in single- and two- family dwellings. 

            "AB 433 would authorize licensed plumbers to install these  
            simple fire protection systems and would ensure that there is  
            adequate access to the skilled professionals needed to meet  
            the requirements of the Code, making homes safer for  
            California families." 

           9)Previous legislation  .  SB 912 (Lieu) of 2012 would have  
            authorized specified contractors to install residential fire  
            protection systems for new single- and two-family homes, and  
            would have also authorized the SFM to adopt regulations for  
            all occupancy buildings, as specified.  SB 912 was  
            substantially amended at the end of the 2011-12 Session,  
            re-referred to the Assembly Rules Committee, and never heard  
            in a policy committee.


          California Building Industry Association (sponsor) 
          California Building Officials 
          California Business Properties Association
          Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association 
          Regional Council of Rural Counties 

          None on file. 
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Joanna Gin / B.,P. & C.P. / (916)