BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 433
          Author:   Gordon (D)
          Amended:  8/13/13 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE BUSINESS, PROF. & ECON. DEVELOP. COMM.  :  10-0, 7/1/13
          AYES:  Lieu, Emmerson, Block, Corbett, Galgiani, Hernandez,  
            Hill, Padilla, Wyland, Yee

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  5-2, 8/26/13
          AYES:  De León, Hill, Lara, Padilla, Steinberg
          NOES:  Walters, Gaines

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  73-0, 4/11/13 - See last page for vote


           SUBJECT  :    Contractors:  fire protection systems:  fire safety:  
           State Fire 
                      Marshal

           SOURCE  :     California Building Industry Association


           DIGEST  :    This bill 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 (SFM) to propose, adopt and administer regulations  
          in order to ensure fire safety in buildings and structures and  
          makes those regulations subject to certain requirements;  
          requires the SFM to establish and collect reasonable fees to  
          implement this bill; and makes technical and clarifying changes.

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           ANALYSIS  :    

          Existing law:

          1. Establishes, under the Contractors State License Board (CSLB)  
             regulations, 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.  

          2. 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.  

          3. 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. 

          4. Establishes, under the CSLB regulations, 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.

          5. Authorizes the SFM to develop building standards relating to  
             the fire and panic safety and submit those standards to the  
             Building Standards Commission (BSC) for approval.

          6. 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.

          This bill:

          1. Authorizes, until January 1, 2017, the installation of a  
             residential fire protection system for a one- or two-family  
             dwelling by a contractor holding a C-16 classification, an  
             owner-builder of an owner-occupied dwelling, or by a  

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             contractor holding a C-36 classification, as defined in the  
             CSLB regulations.

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

          3. Makes conforming changes.

          4. States legislative intent relating to the installation of  
             fire protection system components within a one- or two-family  
             dwelling.
           
          Background
           
          CSLB  .  The CSLB licenses California contractors in three  
          separate branches:  (A) general engineering contracting, (B)  
          general building contracting, and (C) specialty contracting.   
          The law 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.

          CSLB indicates that there were only 2,148 active fire protection  
          contractors licensed as of February of this year, and only 25%  
          of those install residential sprinkler systems.  Comparatively,  
          there are 15,090 active C-36 plumbing contractors statewide.

           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.

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          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 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 local jurisdictions before beginning any projects.

           SFM regulations  .  This bill clarifies the SFM's authority to  
          propose, adopt and administer the regulations and building  
          standards that he/she deems necessary in order to ensure fire  
          safety in buildings and structures and requires those building  

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          standards to be submitted to the BSC for approval, as specified.

          According to the bill's 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 Health and Safety Code Section 18930  
          clearly establishes nine 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 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.


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           Three-year sunset  .  This bill authorizes, 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 fire protection 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.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           Minor and absorbable costs to the CSLB for any enforcement  
            actions related to plumbers installing fire sprinkler systems.

           No new costs to the SFM related to the clarification of the  
            authority to propose, adopt, and administer fire safety  
            regulations and building standards.  This bill provides  
            authority for the SFM to recover any costs associated with the  
            broad regulatory authority provided in the bill by charging  
            reasonable fees for specified activities.

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  8/29/13)

          California Building Industry Association (source)
          California Building Officials

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          California Business Properties Association
          California Fire Chiefs Association 
          California Professional Firefighters
          California State Pipe Trades Council
          Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California
          Rural County Representatives of California

           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  8/29/13)

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

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office, in  
          addition to licensed fire protection contractors (C-16 license),  
          this bill authorizes licensed plumbers (C-36 license) to install  
          residential fire sprinkler systems in one- and two- family  
          dwellings.  This change will ensure that there is adequate  
          access to the skilled professionals needed to meet the new 2010  
          California Residential Code (CRC) requirements 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.

          A number of supporters of this bill, including the bill's  
          sponsor, the California Building Industry Association, 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 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  

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          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 CRC  
          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.

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    The California Fire Training  
          Alliance (CFTA) cites 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:  

          1. This bill does not require plumbers to have any knowledge or  
             training specific to fire sprinkler systems, exposing the  
             public to a significant life safety danger.  In 1988, AB 3841  
             (Eastin, Chapter 1035) 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.

          2. 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. 

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

          4. The sponsor is justifying the need for this bill based on an  
             alleged shortage of licensed fire sprinkler contractors to  
             meet the potential demand which may occur when housing starts  

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             increase.  That shortage simply does not exist.  CFTA argues  
             that it will require only 100 average-sized fire sprinkler  
             companies, of the 2,000 licensed in the state, to meet the  
             sponsor's stated demand.

          5. 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 represent a very small increase to the  
             overall cost of the job.

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  73-0, 4/11/13
          AYES:  Achadjian, Alejo, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Bigelow, Bloom,  
            Blumenfield, Bocanegra, Bonilla, Bonta, Bradford, Brown,  
            Buchanan, Ian Calderon, Campos, Chau, Chávez, Chesbro, Conway,  
            Cooley, Dahle, Daly, Dickinson, Donnelly, Eggman, Fong, Fox,  
            Frazier, Beth Gaines, Garcia, Gatto, Gomez, Gordon, Gorell,  
            Gray, Grove, Hagman, Hall, Roger Hernández, Holden, Jones,  
            Jones-Sawyer, Levine, Linder, Logue, Maienschein, Mansoor,  
            Medina, Melendez, Mitchell, Mullin, Muratsuchi, Nazarian,  
            Nestande, Olsen, Pan, Patterson, Perea, V. Manuel Pérez,  
            Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Salas, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Wagner,  
            Waldron, Weber, Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada, John A. Pérez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Harkey, Lowenthal, Morrell, Rendon, Torres,  
            Wilk, Vacancy


          MW:d  8/29/13   Senate Floor Analyses 

                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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