Bill Summary for H 553 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

Apr 8 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 553 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 2, 2019
AN ACT TO REQUIRE LICENSING AND PERMITTING FOR FIRMS AND PERSONS THAT INSTALL AND SERVICE PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS AND FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS.
Intro. by Strickland, Barnes, Corbin, Hardister.

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Bill summary

Identical to S 519, filed 4/2/19.

Enacts Article 83B, Licensing and Permitting for the Installation and Servicing of Portable Fire Extinguishers and Fire Suppression Systems, to GS Chapter 58.

Sets forth 11 defined terms. Provides for the Commissioner of Insurance (Commissioner) to administer the Article through the Office of the State Fire Marshall. Requires the Commissioner to establish rules for proper installation, inspection, recharging, repairing, servicing, or testing of fire suppression systems or portable fire extinguishers; and required specifications as to the number, type, size, shape, color, and information and data contained on service tags to be attached to all portable fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems covered by the Article that are installed, inspected, recharged, repaired, serviced, or tested. Permits the Commissioner to adopt the applicable standards of the National Fire Protection Association or another nationally recognized organization. Authorizes the Commissioner to adopt rules to require an exam of license or permit applicants under the Article. Authorizes the Commissioner to apply for and receive grants for the Article's administration from interested parties.

Requires firms to be licensed and persons to be permitted to install, inspect, repair, service, or test portable fire extinguishers, pre-engineered kitchen fire suppression systems, pre-engineered industrial fire suppression systems, and engineered special hazard fire suppression systems. Makes it unlawful to take such action on any portable fire extinguisher or fire suppression system without attaching the required tag(s) completed in detail, as described. Excludes from the permitting provisions individuals employed by any firm or governmental entity that only engages in the installation and servicing of fire suppression systems or portable fire extinguishers on such items owned by the firm and installed on property under the control of the firm, subject to the rules and regulations adopted under the Article. Provides further exemptions, including fire chiefs, fire marshals, fire inspectors, and insurance company inspectors, as described, and any firm that engages only in the routine visual inspection of the systems and extinguishers owned by the firm and installed on property under the firm's control.

Sets the license fee at $250 and the permit fee at $100. Exempts government employees and members of a legal organized fire department acting in the member's official capacity.

Sets forth license and permit requirements, including proof of comprehensive liability insurance for prospective licensees. 

Provides for keeping a permit on the permittee's person in the course of the work under the permit, and licensees and permittees producing a valid license or permit upon demand by the Commissioner, the Commissioner's representatives, or any local authority having jurisdiction, or any individual soliciting the services of the licensee or permittee.

Establishes reciprocity with individuals holding a comparable valid permit, license, or certification issued by another state which meets the minimum requirements under the Article and pays the applicable filing fees.

Details the form of licenses, permits and applications. Requires a licensee or permittee to notify the Commissioner within 30 days of any change to application information provided to the Commissioner. Requires the Commissioner give an applicant 60 days to correct any deficiencies discovered in the application.

Requires the licenses and permits to be issued for each license year, beginning January 1 and expiring the following December 31. Provides for restoration of an inoperative license by paying a penalty within 90 days of expiration. After 90 days of expiration, the former licensee or permittee must apply for a new license or permit.

Details license or permit sanctions and denial procedures. Allows for an applicant to request review of a denial in writing within 30 days after service of the notice of denial, and allows an applicant to request an administrative hearing on the outcome within 30 days after service of the notice of the outcome. Requires surrender of a license or surrender within 30 days of suspension, revocation or nonrenewal. Describes the effect of an order of suspension or revocation.

Authorizes the Commissioner to deny, suspend, place on probation, revoke, or refuse to renew any license or permit under the Article for any of the 21 specified reasons, including failure to meet requirements under the Article and conviction of a crime involving dishonesty.

Authorizes the Commissioner to issue cease and desist order for individuals or firms the Commissioner believes is or has been violating the Article. Requires the order to include a notice of opportunity for hearing upon request within 30 days of receipt of the order and notice. Provides for service of the order. Provides for noncompliance to result in the revocation of any and all permits and licenses issued by the Commissioner for a period of at least six months and no more than five years. Provides for effect of noncompliance on new permits or licenses held by the individual or firm. Establishes that violation of the Article can constitute grounds for license or permit refusal.

Establishes civil penalties for violations of the Article, rules adopted thereunder, or order of the Commissioner, as follows: a penalty not exceeding $1000 for the first offense, no less than $1000 and not exceeding $2000 for the second offense, and no less than $2000 and not exceeding $5000 for a third or subsequent offense. Requires prior notice of a violation and a reasonable waiting period before ordering a fine, as specified. Additionally authorizes the Commissioner to bring a civil action to enjoin a violation.

Makes willful or intentional violations of any provision of the Article, rules, or order of the Commissioner a Class 1 misdemeanor. Details other conduct that constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor, including (1) obliterating serial numbers on tags for falsifying service records, (2) improper install or service, (3) allowing another to use a license or permit or use another's license or permit, (4) impersonating a representative of the Commissioner, State Fire Marshal, local fire chief, fire marshal, or other fire authority, (5) noncompliance with the Article, and (6) failure to comply with a cease and desist order issued by the Commissioner.

Clarifies that the Article does not limit certain State or local government powers. Prohibits local government from imposing any further requirements on licensees or permittees to prove competency.

Authorizes the Department of Insurance to adopt temporary rules for the Article's implementation.

Effective January 1, 2020.

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