Fire Protection (C-16) Contractor in CA

As we all cope with the downturn in our economic reality, contractors are ready, willing and able to provide the services you may need. For anyone who profited in the last ten years, now is a great time to give your local contractors a chance to update that landscaping, repaint the house, build the deck you always wanted, install ‘green technology, add that media room and help ‘stimulate’ the workforce. Improvements made today are investments in our communities, our state and our nation’s future economic wellbeing…

Governor Schwarzenegger has launched a new web site focusing on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law February 17th by President Obama. This site (www.recovery.ca.gov) carries daily updates and information on how and where these funds are being spent in CA.

For instance, recent highlights touted $625 million in Stimulus funding for 57 Transportation projects and another $410 million for weatherization funding and energy efficiency grants. According to the Governor, these infrastructure projects alone are estimated to create over 11,000 new jobs.

Two bills recently introduced by Assembly-member Eng would impact contractors both unlicensed and licensed. The first, AB 370 would increase the penalties for unlicensed activities. This bill would require third or subsequent convictions of unlicensed activity to be punishable by BOTH a fine and imprisonment in a county jail. Present law gives discretion to the Court to impose a fine, imprisonment or both.

AB 484, as introduced would require the CSLB and other state governmental licensing entities, to provide the Franchise Tax Board with the name and social security number or federal taxpayer identification number of each individual licensee. If that licensee fails to pay taxes and a state tax lien is recorded, this bill would provide that their professional (ie contractors) license SHALL be automatically suspended, until the unpaid tax payment is satisfied. Both bills are awaiting their first Committee hearing.

Q: Thank you for your articles appearing in our local Builder’s Exchange Newsletter, I find them very informative. I have a situation where our local County Fire Marshall is requiring a licensed “C-16” (Fire Protection) contractor to install the vertical component of a fire hydrant lateral off a water main system. We are a General Engineering (“A”) Contractor and have never faced this requirement, nor do we believe such a requirement is valid. Thank you for your time and advice.

A: I have received several recent inquires from contractors who are having similar issues with local governments. If I understand the project correctly, it involves laying pipe (likely cement lined and cast iron), excavation and backfill of the pipeline, and water main tie-ins. Right or wrong, it is ultimately up to local government officials to determine the “correct” classification for work within their jurisdiction. This being said, I agree with your assessment that the Fire Marshall should also accept an “A” for this project. While the “C-16” is proper so too should be the General Engineering classification.

My opinion is based on B&P Code section 7056 that defines what General Engineering contractors can properly handle. In part, this code specifies that an “A” contractor is involved with fixed works requiring engineering knowledge and skills. This includes water power or water supply projects as well as excavating, grading, trenching, paving, cement or concrete in connection with these fixed works.

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