2020 Missouri License Proposal is Dead

Again, this year, the Missouri Senate had brought back a misguided attempt to license fire protection contractors. Senate Bill 559 would have required that any company involved in the design, installation, maintenance, construction, alteration, repair, and inspection of any “fire suppression system”, would need to have a statewide mechanical license issued by a new Office of Mechanical Contractors.

Mike Joanis, NFSA Director of Contractor Services, wrote a letter to bill sponsor, Senator Schatz, in early April, expressing the voice of the sprinkler industry. Fire chiefs and fire marshals also voiced their concern to the senator, who has now pulled the bill from the senate. The bill is essentially dead for now.

SB 559 stated that a mechanical contractor shall provide only 8 hours of training to employees each year. The bill went on to say that political subdivisions may establish their own local mechanical contractor’s license but must recognize a statewide license for the purposes of performing work or obtaining permits to perform work. No political subdivision may require fire suppression employees to obtain journeymen licenses, apprenticeship licenses, or occupational licenses that require passing any examination or any basic test to assess proficiency.

Fire suppression and fire protection systems are integral part of our modern building environment and are often life safety systems. Senate Bill 559, however, did not provide sufficient fire protection training or education for the license holder to design and install these technical systems. A licensure should be a way for the public to ensure that an individual or company has met testing and competency standards based upon industry standard practices. Instead this bill, would have “lowered the bar” of competency for fire protection and suppression system contractors. Without an acceptable level of certification and training, there could be disastrous consequences from unwanted system activation to failure of a system to operate, causing catastrophic property damage or loss of life.