Illinois legis. passes sprinkler contractor bill

Saturday, February 1, 2003

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Legislators here in December voted to approve the passage of legislation that mandates a licensing program for sprinkler contractors in the state.

The passage makes Illinois the 38th state to pass such a law, according to Daniel Gengler, Midwest regional manager for the National Fire Sprinkler Association. Gengler worked with the NFSA’s Northern Illinois Chapter on the passage of the legislation.

The new contractor sprinkler law won’t become effective until a series of specifics are hammered out, such determining a fee schedule for the costs of the licensing, which will be determined by the state fire marshal’s office. The leadership in that office could change, under newly elected Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was elected last November, Gengler said.

“The second issue is how long it takes to identify who is doing the sprinkler work in the state,” Gengler said. Because there had been no way of identifying and tracking sprinkler contractors, state regulators will now have to determine how many contractors are operating in Illinois.

While the passage of the law represents the first type of sprinkler contractor regulation on a statewide basis, sprinkler industry officials were hopeful that the law would be more comprehensive.

“We would have like to have seen it more stringent, to cover any type of fire sprinkler installation, from a one family dwelling all the way up to the largest commercial building,” Gengler said. “But it was necessary to get the legislation passed and to deal with the different lobbies and different interests that were not congruent with ours.”

Existing contractors operating in the state before the law was passed will automatically be grandfathered, but “at some point in time there will be continuing education requirements,” Gengler said.

“Our biggest hope is to have the law functional in the shortest period of time,” Gengler said.

The law mandates that sprinklers must be installed in an eight family dwelling or greater.