Gov. Ivey signs bill to let plumbers install sprinkler systems

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A bill signed by Governor Kay Ivey could lower the cost of having a fire safety sprinkler system installed in your home. Local firefighters and the state fire marshal are calling it a victory, but some sprinkler fitters say the bill doesn’t provide enough regulation.

”It’s not uncommon for us to pull up and it’s expanded beyond one or two rooms and is involving the attic or an entire floor just in a matter of four or five minutes,” said Vestavia Hills Firefighter Lt. Randy Farrell.

He said a sprinkler system can suppress a fire enough to keep it contained to a single room. it buys time for the people inside to escape and for the fire department to arrive.

“We can get in there and put the rest of the fire out then shut the sprinkler system down to contain the water damage,” said Farrell.

The bill signed by Governor Ivey, HB66, could make it easier for homeowners to get them. It allows master plumbers to install sprinkler systems in single family homes after 32 hours of specialized training.

“The intent of this is to hopefully reduce the cost associated with these types of systems being installed in a homeowner’s home,” said Alabama Fire Marshal Scott Pilgreen. “The way the law was written prior to this was that you and I or anybody else would have to go to a commercial sprinkler contractor.”

“I wouldn’t put the safety of my family in the hands of somebody who really probably shouldn’t be putting those systems in,” said Sprinkler Fitter Marketing Representative Tracy Owens.

Owens and Richard Beckham, sprinkler fitters by trade, said there are two main things that concern them. First, traditional systems stand alone. They aren’t connected to the residential main water supply as they would be when installed by a plumber.

Second, he said they don’t think 32 hours is enough training.

“We go through training with our apprentices, they have 10 thousand hours of training on not just residential but every type of sprinkler system,” said Beckham.

“When you’re installing a life safety device, you need to get good qualified people to put it in,” said Owens.

The fire marshal said anyone with questions should feel free to contact his office. You can find contact information on the fire marshal website here.

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