BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







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        |Hearing Date:July 1, 2013          |Bill No:AB                         |
        |                                   |433                                |
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                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS 
                               AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                              Senator Ted W. Lieu, Chair
                                           

                          Bill No:        AB 433Author:Gordon
                      As Amended:June 10, 2013        Fiscal: Yes

        
        SUBJECT:  Contractors:  fire protection systems:  fire safety:  State  
        Fire Marshal.
        
        SUMMARY:  Authorizes, until January 1, 2017, licensed plumbing  
        contractors to install residential fire protection systems for single  
        and two-family homes; authorizes the State Fire Marshal to propose,  
        adopt and administer regulations and building standards in order to  
        ensure fire safety in buildings and structures and makes those  
        building standards subject to certain requirements; makes technical  
        and clarifying amendments.

        Existing law:
        
       1)Licenses and regulates more than 300,000 contractors under the  
          Contractors State License Law (Contractors Law) by the Contractors  
          State License Board (CSLB) within the Department of Consumer Affairs  
          (DCA).  (Business and Professions Code (BPC)  7000 et seq.)

       2)Authorizes the CSLB to issue licenses to contracting businesses in  
          three different branches, generally categorized by letter:  A -  
          general engineering contracting, B - general building contracting  
          and C - specialty contracting.  (BPC  7055)

       3)Provides that a specialty contractor is a contractor whose operations  
          involve the performance of construction work requiring special skill  
          and whose principal contracting business involves the use of  
          specialized building trades or crafts.  (BPC  7058)

       4)Authorizes CSLB to adopt reasonably necessary rules and regulations  
          for the classification of specialty contractors in a manner  





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          consistent with established usage and procedure as found in the  
          construction business, and to limit their field and scope of  
          operations to those to which they are classified and qualified to  
          engage, as defined.  (BPC  7059)

       5)CSLB regulations establish a  fire protection contractor  (C-16)  
          classification as a contractor which lays out, fabricates and  
          installs all types of fire protection systems including all the  
          equipment associated with these systems, and excluding electrical  
          alarm systems.  (California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 16,   
          832.16)

       6)Prohibits a general building contractor from contracting for any  
          project that includes the C-16 classification unless the general  
          building contractor holds that license classification or  
          subcontracts with the appropriately licensed contractor.  (BPC   
          7057 (c))

       7)Provides that the installation of a fire protection system may be  
          performed only by a contractor holding a C-16 classification or by  
          an owner-builder of an owner-occupied, single-family dwelling, as  
          specified.  (BPC  7026.12)

       8)CSLB regulations establish a  plumbing contractor  (C-36)  
          classification as a contractor which provides a means for a supply  
          of safe water for the purpose intended and the proper disposal of  
          fluid waste from the premises in all structures and fixed works.   
          The C-36 classification includes:  (CCR  832.36)

           a)   Waste removal or the construction and connection of on-site  
             waste disposal systems; 

           b)   Piping, storage tanks and venting for a safe and adequate  
             supply of gases and liquids for any purpose, including vacuum,  
             compressed air and gases for medical, dental, commercial and  
             industrial uses; 

           c)   Gas appliances, flues and gas connections for all systems;

           d)   Water and gas piping from the property owner's side of the  
             utility meter to the structure or fixed works;

           e)   Installation of any type of equipment to heat water, or  
             fluids, including the installation of solar equipment for this  
             purpose;






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           f)   Maintenance and replacement of all items described above and  
             all health and safety devices such as, but not limited to, gas  
             earthquake valves, gas control valves, back flow preventers,  
             water conditioning equipment and regulating valves.

       9)Authorizes the State Fire Marshal (SFM) to develop building standards  
          relating to fire and panic safety and submit those standards to the  
          California Building Standards Commission (BSC) for approval.   
          (Health and Safety Code (HSC)  13100 et seq.)

       10)Establishes under the California Building Standards Code the  
          processes related to the adoption, approval, publication, and  
          implementation of proposed building standards under the California  
          Building Standards Law, and administered by the BSC.  These building  
          codes serve as the basis for the design and construction of  
          buildings in California.  (HSC  18935 et seq.)

        This bill:

       1)Authorizes, until January 1, 2017, the installation of a residential  
          fire protection system for a one or 2-family dwelling by a  
          contractor holding a fire protection contractor (C-16)  
          classification, an owner-builder of an owner-occupied dwelling, or  
          by a contractor holding a plumbing contractor (C-36) classification,  
          as defined in the CSLB regulations.

       2)Authorizes the SFM to propose, adopt and administer the regulations  
          and building standards that he or she deems necessary in order to  
          ensure fire safety in buildings and structures and requires those  
          building standards to be submitted to the BSC for approval, as  
          specified. 

       3)Makes conforming changes.

        FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill has been keyed "fiscal" by  
        Legislative Counsel. 

        COMMENTS:
        
       1.Purpose.  This bill is sponsored by  California Building Industry  
          Association  (CBIA, Sponsor).  According to the Author, in addition  
          to licensed fire protection contactors (C-16 license), this bill  
          would authorize licensed plumbers (C-36 license) to install  
          residential fire sprinkler systems in one and two- family dwellings.  
           This change would ensure that there is adequate access to the  
          skilled professionals needed to meet the new 2010 California  





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          Residential Code requirements.

       The Author states the need for the bill as follows:

             In 2010, the California State Building Standards Commission  
             voted unanimously to approve the 2010 California Residential  
             Code, which specifies that all new one or two-family dwellings  
             built after January 1, 2011 must be equipped with fire sprinkler  
             systems.  This requirement increased the need for residential  
             fire sprinkler design and installation, but did not increase  
             access to professionals that can legally provide the service.

             The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the body that  
             provides for the certification and regulation of contractors,  
             within the Department of Consumer Affairs.  According to the  
             CSLB, in February of 2013 there were only 2,148 active C-16 fire  
             protection contractors.  Fire protection contractors are  
             licensed to install all types of fire protection systems in all  
             types of structures.  Of these, approximately 25% install  
             sprinklers in residential homes.  There were also 15,090 active  
             C-36 plumbing contractors in California.  Plumbing contractors  
             have a broader license parameter, which includes supplying 'safe  
             water, in ample volume.'  With the new requirements for fire  
             sprinkler installation in all homes, and the growth witnessed in  
             the building industry in recent years, plumbers can provide  
             assistance to meet the need for fire sprinklers, without  
             hampering development.

             Fire sprinkler systems for one 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 one  
             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 line, as opposed to stand-alone fire sprinkler systems  
             that are independent from the domestic water distribution  
             system.

          According to the Sponsor, this bill would also clarify the SFM's  
          authority to propose, adopt and administer fire safety regulation  
          in buildings and structures within the state.

       2.Background.  The CSLB licenses California contractors in three  
          separate branches:  A - general engineering contracting, B - general  
          building contracting, and C - specialty contracting.  The law  





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          authorizes the CSLB to adopt regulations for the classification of  
          specialty contractors consistent with established usage and  
          procedure of the construction business, and to limit specialty  
          contractors to the field and scope in which they are classified and  
          are qualified to work.

       Accordingly, there are 41 separate Class C license classifications for  
          specialty contractors whose construction work requires special skill  
          and whose principal contracting business involves the use of  
          specialized building trades or crafts.

       3.Residential fire sprinkler systems.  A fire sprinkler system is an  
          active fire protection measure, consisting of a water supply,  
          providing adequate pressure and flow rate to a water distribution  
          piping system, onto which fire sprinklers are connected.  Although  
          historically only used in factories and large commercial buildings,  
          home and small building systems are now available at a  
          cost-effective price.

       A residential fire sprinkler system refers to a system that falls under  
          a residential classification separate from the commercial  
          classifications (NFPA 13).  A commercial sprinkler system is  
          designed to protect the structure and the occupants from a fire.   
          Most residential sprinkler systems are primarily designed to  
          suppress a fire in such a way to allow for the safe escape of the  
          building occupants.  While these systems will often also protect the  
          structure from major fire damage, this is a secondary consideration.  
           In residential structures, sprinklers are often omitted from  
          closets, bathrooms, balconies, and attics because a fire in these  
          areas would not usually impact the occupant's escape route.

       Beginning January 1, 2011, California made automatic fire sprinkler  
          systems mandatory in all new one and two-family dwellings throughout  
          the state.  In line with the 2009 International Building, Fire and  
          Residential Code, this change came from modifications to the  
          California Building Code through the BSC.  

       For many years, installation of fire sprinkler systems has only been  
          required in office buildings and multi-family dwellings (i.e.  
          apartments).  According to the SFM, these sprinkler systems are  
          proven to save lives and extinguish fires.

       A December 2010 CSLB Industry Bulleting advised:  "A General  
          Engineering, B General Building, C-36 Plumbing contractors need to  
          be aware that only the C-16 Fire Protection classification is  
          legally permitted to lay out, fabricate or install fire protection  





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          systems.  Other trades can provide work up to the fire protection  
          system only, regardless of whether the fire protection system is  
          combined or stand-alone."

       The new residential requirement does not affect home remodels, only new  
          construction; however, according to SFM there are more than 150  
          local ordinances related to residential fire sprinklers, and the  
          CSLB advises and it would be a good idea to check with your local  
          jurisdiction before beginning any projects.

       4.State Fire Marshal Regulations.  This bill clarifies the SFM's  
          authority to propose, adopt and administer the regulations and  
          building standards that he or she deems necessary in order to ensure  
          fire safety in buildings and structures and requires those building  
          standards to be submitted to the BSC for approval, as specified.

       According to the Sponsor, over the years there have been several  
          challenges to the SFM's authority to adopt and administer fire  
          safety standards for buildings and structures in California.  One  
          such challenge had to do with the SFM establishing building  
          standards for laboratories located within a section or floor of a  
          building.  A second challenge was concerning the SFM's standards for  
          exiting requirements for large commercial storage facilities.  In  
          both of these cases, during the process of the SFM establishing  
          building fire safety standards before the BSC, the SFM's authority  
          to adopt the particular building standards was disputed.  In both of  
          these cases, the BSC ultimately upheld the SFM's authority to  
          establish building standards in these areas.  Although the BSC  
          ultimately confirmed the SFM's authority, still such challenges tend  
          to delay the regulation process and could at times actually bring  
          the regulatory process to a stop.

       The Sponsor points out that the Health and Safety Code Section 18930  
          clearly establishes 9 separate criteria which must be met by a state  
          agency adopting or proposing any building standard before the BSC.   
          The second of those criteria require the proposed building standard  
          to be within the parameters of the enabling legislation and to not  
          be within the jurisdiction of another agency.  The ninth, requires  
          that if the proposed building standard promotes fire and panic  
          safety, the SFM must sign off on the building standard.  The Sponsor  
          reasons that these criteria reflect an inherent authority of the SFM  
          in establishing building standards, and the bill simply clarifies  
          that authority.

       The Sponsor contends that this bill's clarification of the SFM's  
          authority to adopt fire safety building standards will provide two  





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          basic benefits:  First, it will help prevent 11th-hour challenges to  
          the SFM's authority to establish building standards, which  
          ultimately delays or perhaps even tables, the regulatory process.   
          Second, it clarifies the SFM's authority to address emerging issues  
          in the construction industry such as the installation of solar photo  
          voltaic panels on the top, side or adjacent to structures.  In such  
          cases, the SFM must have clear authority to establish fire-safety  
          standards for building entrance, exit and access.

       5.Three Year Sunset.  This bill would authorize, until January 1, 2017,  
          a plumbing contractor to install residential fire protection systems  
          in one- or 2-family dwellings.  According to the Sponsor, this three  
          year window is a deliberate timeframe in which it can best be  
          determined whether it is appropriate to continue allowing plumbing  
          contractors to install residential fire sprinkler systems, or to  
          require plumbing contractors to obtain additional education and  
          experience before being allowed to continue to install residential  
          systems.

       According to the Sponsor, it is critical to authorize plumbing  
          contractors to install residential sprinkler systems at this time,  
          because the state residential construction industry is now beginning  
          to rebound from the worst housing slump in 60 years, and there  
          simply are not enough fire sprinkler contractors to install all the  
          residential systems that will be needed in the next two years.  The  
          Sponsor states that only about 20% of the state's 2,100 C-16  
          contractors are involved in residential construction, and without an  
          infusion of additional licensees authorized to install residential  
          fire sprinkler systems, there will be severe bottlenecks in  
          residential construction.  Establishing a three year sunset will  
          relieve the bottleneck, and at the same time require that the issue  
          will be revisited in the near future.

       6.Prior Legislation.   SB 912  (Lieu, 2012) as gutted and amended on the  
          Assembly Floor at the end of the Session was very similar to this  
          measure.  The bill would have authorized C-36 plumbers and general  
          contractors, in addition to fire protection specialty contractors,  
          to install fire protection systems in one- and two- family homes.   
          It would have also authorized the SFM to adopt and administer  
          regulations and building standards for all occupancy buildings, and  
          require the standards to be submitted to the BSC for approval.   
          (  Status  :  This bill died on the Assembly Floor.)

        SB 405  (Cogdill, 2009) would have required any commercial or  
          residential fire sprinkler installation to be performed by a fire  
          protection contractor under the direct supervision of a fire  





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          sprinkler supervisor.  (  Status  :  This bill died without being heard  
          in Senate BP&ED Committee.)

       7.Arguments in Support.  A number of supporters of this bill, including  
          the 
       Sponsor the  California Building Industry Association  , as well as the  
           California Business Properties Association  , the  Rural County  
          Representatives of California  , the  California Building Officials  ,  
          the  Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California  ,  
          and the  California State Pipe Trades Council  write that for over 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 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 BSC  
          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.   
          Proponents further argue that fire sprinkler systems for one- and  
          two-family dwellings are relatively easy to design and install in  
          comparison to those installed in high-rise residential and  
          commercial buildings.  A licensed plumber (C-36) has the knowledge  
          and experience necessary to install fire sprinkler systems in  
          one-and two-family dwellings, according to the proponents.

       The  California Fire Chiefs Association  believes the addition of  
          licensed and skilled professionals such as plumbing contractors is  
          necessary to meet the provisions of the new 2010 California  
          Residential Code requirements, ensuring there are sufficient  
          professionals to install sprinkler systems in one-and-two family  
          homes, resulting in fire and life safety for more Californians.

       8.Arguments in Opposition.  The  California Fire Training Alliance   
          (CFTA) opposes the bill, quoting the Acting State Fire Marshal who  
          states:  "Training and education is critical to the implementation  
          of our building standards and the recommendations are essential to  
          the successful understanding of the statewide residential fire  
          sprinkler adoption within the California Building Standards."  CFTA  
          further makes the following arguments:  

               The bill does not require plumbers to have any knowledge or  
             training specific to fire sprinkler systems, exposing the public  





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             to a significant life safety danger.  In 1988, AB 3841 (Eastin,  
             Chapter 1035, Statutes of 1988) removed the authorization for a  
             plumbing contractor to install fire sprinklers and specified that  
             only a licensed fire sprinkler contractor could install fire  
             sprinklers in the state of California.  This bill reverses that  
             provision without requiring any knowledge or training by the  
             plumbing contractor.

               The contractor licensing law requires at least four full years  
             of experience "in the classification for which he or she is  
             applying."  This bill does not require plumbers to have any  
             experience with fire sprinkler systems. 

               The bill does not address qualifications necessary to design a  
             fire sprinkler system.  Presumably, the bill would allow plumbing  
             contractors to design the systems that they install, without any  
             requisite training, experience, and expertise.

               The Sponsor is justifying the need for the bill based on an  
             alleged shortage of licensed fire sprinkler contractors to meet  
             the potential demand which may occur when housing starts  
             increase.  That shortage simply does not exist.  CFTA argues that  
             it would require only 100 average-sized fire sprinkler companies,  
             of the 2,000 licensed in the state, to meet the Sponsor's stated  
             demand.

               The Sponsor has suggested that there are too few fire  
             sprinkler contractors in remote areas of the state. The fact of  
             the matter, according to CFTA, is that a very small percentage of  
             the state's residential construction takes place in remote areas.  
              Furthermore, the additional cost necessary for an out of town  
             contractor to transport and house employees for the duration of a  
             fire sprinkler installation project represents a very small  
             increase to the overall cost of the job.

               Finally, CFTA, argues that there are alternatives to the  
             current proposal, and suggests possible amendments to the bill:

                   Currently, a plumbing contractor has the authority to  
               complete the steps necessary to obtain a C-16 fire sprinkler  
               license, and many have done so (approximately 40% of the C-16  
               licensees also hold a C-36 license);

                   One compromise would be to create a "C-16(Residential)"  
               license class that would allow a plumbing contractor to  
               complete the training and examinations necessary to install  





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               residential fire sprinkler systems;

                   Another compromise would allow plumbing contractors to  
                              install residential multi-purpose systems that supply both  
               domestic water and fire suppression.
        


        SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
        
         Support:  

        California Building Industry Association (Sponsor)
        California Building Officials
        California Business Properties Association
        California Fire Chiefs Association 
        California State Pipe Trades Council
        Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California
        Rural County Representatives of California
































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         Opposition:  

        California Fire Training Alliance 
        California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)
        Fire Chief, City of Merced 
        SimplexGrinnel

        Numerous individuals

        Consultant:G. V. Ayers