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Introduced Version Senate Bill 540 History

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Senate Bill No. 540

(By Senators McCabe, Hunter, White, Sharpe, Bowman,

Kessler and Sprouse)

____________

[Introduced March 14, 2005; referred to the Committee

on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §29-3D-1, §29-3D-2, §29-3D-3, §29-3D-4, §29-3D-5, §29-3D-6, §29-3D-7, §29-3D-8 and §29-3D-9, all relating to regulating plumbers and fire protection workers; requiring plumbers and fire protection workers to be licensed; defining certain terms; providing certain exemptions to the requirement of a license; requiring the State Fire Marshal to make applications available to affected persons; providing for the payment of certain license fees; setting forth the powers and duties of the Fire Marshal; listing criteria to be considered in denying, suspending or revoking any license; setting forth criminal penalties for noncompliance; and providing that no political subdivision of the state may mandate additional licensing requirements.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §29-3D-1, §29-3D-2, §29-3D-3, §29-3D-4, §29-3D-5, §29-3D-6, §29-3D-7, §29-3D-8 and §29-3D-9, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 3D. SUPERVISION OF PLUMBING AND FIRE PROTECTION WORK.

§29-3D-1. Declaration of purpose.

The provisions of this article are intended to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public as well as public and private property by assuring the competence of those who perform plumbing and fire protection work through licensure by the State Fire Marshal of the State Fire Commission.

§29-3D-2. Necessity of license; definitions.

After the effective date of this article, no plumbing or fire protection work may be performed, offered or engaged in for compensation or hire within this state by any person unless such person possesses a license issued by the State Fire Marshal in accordance with the provisions of this article, and a copy of the license is carried on their person on any job in which plumbing or fire protection work is being performed for hire.

As used in this article:

(a) "Plumber in training" means a person with interest in and an aptitude for performing plumbing work but who alone is not capable of performing plumbing work.

(b) "Sprinkler fitter in training" means a person with interest in and an aptitude for performing fire protection work but who alone is not capable of performing such work.

(c) "Fire protection work" means the practice, materials, and equipment in a building used in the installation, alteration, extension, maintenance, or testing of all piping, materials and equipment, both above and below ground, as defined by the state fire code, using shop drawings prepared by a fire protection layout technician, in connection with the discharge of water, other special fluids, chemicals or gases and backflow preventers for fire protection for the express purpose of extinguishing or controlling fire. Fire protection equipment shall not include public and private mobile fire vehicles.

(d) "Fire protection layout technician" is an individual who performs or supervises fire protection shop drawing layout work. (e) "Journeyman plumber" means a person qualified by at least eight thousand hours of plumbing experience and who is competent to instruct and supervise the work of a plumber in training.

(f) "Journeyman sprinkler fitter" means a person qualified by at least ten thousand hours of work experience installing, adjusting, repairing and dismantling fire protection systems and who is competent to instruct and supervise the fire protection work of a sprinkler fitter in training.

(g) "License" means a valid and current license issued by the
State Fire Marshal in accordance with the provisions of this article.
(h) "Master plumber" means a person with at least twelve thousand hours of plumbing work experience and who is competent to design plumbing systems, and to instruct and supervise the plumbing work of journeyman plumbers, and plumbers in training.

(i) "Plumbing" means the practice, materials, and fixtures, from the first connection outside of the building used in the installation, maintenance, extension, or alteration of all piping, fixtures, plumbing appliances, plumbing appurtenances, as defined by the state building code, in connection with the sanitary drainage facilities, plumbing venting systems, medical gas systems, fuel oil and gas piping, backflow preventers, and public or private water supply systems.

§29-3D-3. Exemptions; nonapplicability of license requirements.

This article does not apply to and no license may be required for:

(1) A person who personally performs plumbing or fire protection work with respect to any single family dwelling owned or leased, and occupied by that person;

(2) A person who performs plumbing or fire protection work at any manufacturing plant or other industrial establishment as an employee of the person, firm or corporation operating the plant or establishment;

(3) A person who performs plumbing work while employed by an employer who engages in the business of selling appliances at retail, so long as such plumbing work is performed incidental to the installation or repair of appliances sold by the employer; or

(4) A person who, while employed by a public utility or its affiliate, performs plumbing or fire protection work in connection with the furnishing of public utility service.

§29-3D-4. Rules; applications and examinations; fees; reciprocity.

(a) The State Fire Marshal shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code for the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this article. Proposed rules shall provide: Standards and procedures for certification, including applications, examinations, fees, qualifications, procedures for investigating complaints, revoking or suspending licenses, appeal procedures, issuance of licenses, renewal of licenses, classifications of licenses: Provided, That the license fee shall not exceed one hundred dollars annually.

(b) The State Fire Marshal shall prepare and arrange for the receipt of applications from those who intend to perform plumbing or fire protection work in this state. The application shall be sufficiently detailed to enable the State Fire Marshal to determine the presence or absence of an applicant?s qualifications for a license of a particular class and may include an examination. The
State Fire Marshal may require applicants to supply affidavits or other documents attesting to the applicant's qualifications, from past employers, other plumbers, sprinkler fitters, fire protection technicians, engineers and others with knowledge of the applicant?s qualifications. The State Fire Marshal may make other inquiries as he or she considers necessary to determine the qualifications of the applicant. An applicant expressly consents to inquiries by the State Fire Marshal by his or her application: Provided, That in order to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of this article, the State Fire Marshal shall, until the first day of July, two thousand six, provide for the granting of licensure without a test. The State Fire Marshal shall charge a fee of seventy-five dollars for a master plumber license and fifty dollars for any other license, and the license shall be effective for no less than one year and no more than two years. The State Fire Marshal shall prepare and arrange for the receipt of applications from those who intend to perform plumbing or fire protection work in this state. The application shall require evidence of the hours worked as specified in section two, article three-d, chapter twenty-nine for each classification a license is requested and shall be sufficiently detailed to enable the State Fire Marshal to determine the presence or absence of an applicant?s qualifications for a license of a particular class. The State Fire Marshal may require applicants to supply affidavits or other documents attesting to the applicant?s qualifications from past employers, other plumbers, sprinkler fitters, fire protection technicians, engineers and others with knowledge of the applicant?s qualifications. The State Fire Marshal may make other inquiries as he or she considers necessary to determine the qualifications of the applicant. An applicant expressly consents to inquiries by the State Fire Marshal by his or her application.
(c) To the extent that other jurisdictions provide for the licensing of plumbers or sprinkler fitters, the State Fire Marshal may grant the same or equivalent classification of license without written examination upon satisfactory proof furnished to the State Fire Marshal that the qualifications of the applicant are equal to the qualifications required by this article and upon the submission of a complete application and the payment of the required fee: Provided, That as a condition to reciprocity, the other jurisdictions must extend to licensed plumbers or sprinkler fitters of this state, the same or equivalent classification.

§29-3D-5. Powers, duties and authority of State Fire Marshal.

(a) Enforcement. -- The State Fire Marshal and his or her deputy fire marshal, assistant fire marshal, assistant fire marshal-in-training, any deputized person pursuant to subsection (j), section twelve, article three, chapter twenty-nine of this code or any compliance officer of the Division of Labor as authorized by the Commissioner of the Division of Labor is
authorized to enforce the provisions of this article. The State Fire Marshal may deputize any compliance officer of the Division of Labor in the enforcement of the provisions of this article.
(b) Issuance of citations. -- The State Fire Marshal and any of his or her deputy fire marshals, assistant fire marshals, assistant fire marshals-in-training, any deputized person pursuant to subsection (j), section twelve, article three, chapter twenty-nine of this code and any deputized compliance officer of the Division of Labor are hereby authorized to issue citations, in his or her jurisdiction for noncompliance with this article: Provided, That a summary report of all citations issued pursuant to this section by persons deputized by subsection (j), section twelve, article three, chapter twenty-nine of this code and persons deputized under subsection (a) of this section shall be forwarded monthly to the State Fire Marshal in the form and containing information as he or she may require, including the violation for which the citation was issued, the date of issuance, the name of the person issuing the citation and the person to whom the citation was issued. The State Fire Marshal may at any time revoke the authorization of a person deputized by subsection (j)in section twelve, article three, chapter twenty-nine of this code and persons deputized pursuant to subsection (a) of this section to issue citations, if in the opinion of the State Fire Marshal, the exercise of authority by the person is inappropriate.

(c) Right of entry. -- The State Fire Marshal or any of his or her deputy fire marshals, assistant fire marshal, assistant fire marshals-in-training, any deputized person pursuant to subsection (e), section twelve, article three, chapter twenty-nine of this code and any deputized compliance officer of the West Virginia Division of Labor may, at all reasonable hours, enter upon any property, or enter any building or premises where plumbing or fire protection work is being performed for the purpose of ascertaining compliance with the conditions set forth in this article.

(d) Interagency cooperation. -- The State Fire Marshal shall contract with the Division of Labor for the enforcement of the licensing provisions of this article. The State Fire Marshal and the Commissioner of Labor shall execute a work-sharing agreement which defines the enforcement authority to be shared, the appropriate distribution of revenues, and the procedures for citation and disciplinary actions against persons who violate the licensing requirements of this article.

§29-3D-6. Denial of license; suspension and revocation of license.

(a) The State Fire Marshal may deny a license to any applicant who fails to comply with the rules established by the State Fire Marshal, or who lacks the necessary qualifications.
(b) The State Fire Marshal may, upon complaint or upon his or her own inquiry, and after notice to the licensee, suspend or revoke a licensee?s license if:
(1) The license was granted upon an application or documents supporting the application which materially misstated the terms of the applicant?s qualifications or experience;
(2) The licensee subscribed or vouched for a material misstatement in his or her application for licensure;
(3) The licensee incompetently or unsafely performs plumbing or fire protection work;
(4) The licensee violated any statute of this State, any legislative rule or any ordinance of any municipality or county of this state which protects the consumer or public against unfair, unsafe, unlawful or improper business practices; or
(5) The licensee fails to comply with any legislatively adopted rule of the State Fire Marshal.
§29-3D-7. Effect of noncompliance with article; failure to obtain license.

(a) Any person, firm, corporation or employee thereof, or any representative, member or officer of the firm or corporation, individually, entering upon or engaging in the business of performing any plumbing or fire protection work as defined in this article, without obtaining the required license or otherwise complying with this article, shall be issued a citation and for the first offense shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars. For a second and each subsequent offense, the penalty and punishment shall be a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars. Each day during which the plumbing or fire protection work is performed without the required license or while in noncompliance with any of the provisions of this article, after official notice that the work is unlawful, is a separate offense.
(b) Any plumbing or fire protection work performed by a person, firm or corporation which is determined by the State Fire Marshal to constitute a safety or health hazard to members of the public or any plumbing or fire protection work of an extensive nature being performed by any person without the required license or otherwise in noncompliance with the requirements of this article, is subject to being issued a cease and desist order requiring the person, firm or corporation to immediately cease all plumbing or fire protection work in this state. The cease and desist order may be withdrawn upon correction of the violation. Any person continuing to engage in plumbing or fire protection work after the issuance of a cease and desist order is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, is subject to the following penalties:
(1) For a first offense, a fine of not less than two hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars;
(2) For a second offense, a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than two thousand dollars, or confinement in jail for not more than six months, or both;
(3) For a third or subsequent offense, a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars, and confinement in jail for not less than thirty days nor more than one year.
(c) The Fire Marshal may institute proceedings in the circuit court of the county where the alleged violation of the provisions of this article occurred or are now occurring to enjoin any violation of any provision of this article. A circuit court by mandatory or prohibitory injunction may compel compliance with the provisions of this article, with the lawful orders of the State Fire Marshal and with any final decision of the State Fire Marshal. The State Fire Marshal shall be represented in all such proceedings by the Attorney General or his or her assistants.
(d) Any person adversely affected by an action of the State Fire Marshal may appeal the action pursuant to the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
§29-3D-8. Inapplicability of local ordinances; exclusive license.

After the effective date of this article, no political subdivision of this state may require any license or other evidence of competence as a plumber or sprinkler fitter from any person who holds a valid and current license issued under the provisions of this article, as a condition precedent to permission for the performance of plumbing or fire protection work in the political subdivision.
§29-3D-9. Disposition of fees, fines and other receipts.
All fees shall be paid to the State Fire Marshal. The fee receipts shall be deposited by the State Fire Marshal in a special account with the State Treasurer for the use of the State Fire Marshal as provided in subsection (c), section twelve-b, article three of this chapter. All fines provided for under the provisions of this article shall be paid into the general revenue of the state.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to regulate persons providing business services in the fields of plumbing and fire protection to insure these professionals. The bill requires plumbers and fire protection workers to be licensed and provides for administration by the State Fire Marshal. Under the bill, criminal penalties are provided for violations.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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