The Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Department of Public Safety both have received numerous questions regarding licensed sprinkler contractors, journeymen, and apprentices. These licenses are all issued by the Department of Public Safety.
The Department of Public Safety issues three types of licenses to members of the sprinkler industry, which are described below. A license is required when installing any part of a sprinkler system (e.g. pipe, hangers, sprinkler heads, couplings. etc.).
Sprinkler Contractor (SC): issued to the principal of the company, and a sprinkler contractor license is required to pull a permit under the State Fire Code or the State Building Code. The permit can be applied for by a person working for the contractor, but a copy of the SC license should accompany the permit.
Sprinkler Journeyman (SJ): A sprinkler journeyman must work for a sprinkler contractor. A sprinkler journeyman cannot operate a company and contract installation work.
Sprinkler Apprentice (SA): issued to personnel working for a sprinkler contractor learning the sprinkler industry trade. A sprinkler apprentice must work under the direct supervision of a sprinkler journeyman. Further, MGL c. 146, §85A clearly identifies that a sprinkler contractor may employ multiple apprentices, but only one apprentice can be employed for each sprinkler journeyman, and the apprentice must be under the direct supervision of a sprinkler journeyman.
During the June 24, 1998, meeting of the Bureau of Pipe fitters, Sprinkler fitters and Refrigeration Technicians, the Board determined that there is no restriction on the number of apprentices working under the direct supervision of a sprinkler journeyman on a job site provided that the one to one employment ratio has been satisfied. To provide further clarification, the Board has indicated that direct supervision means on the floor and general vicinity of the work-taking place. For example, the apprentice could not be working on the 3rd floor while the journeyman is working on the 4th floor. In this example, direct supervision would not be satisfied under the law.
The Department of Public Safety and the Office of the State Fire Marshal take the installation of automatic sprinklers seriously, and we are asking for your cooperation in reviewing licensed personnel during regular inspections. In the event that fire department personnel or local building officials are on site completing inspections, a review of professional licenses should be completed based on the descriptions above.
Further, a sprinkler contractor may employ "non-licensed" personnel to run errands as may be necessary. However, these personnel may not participate in the installation of any part of a sprinkler system (e.g. a person to run to pick up supplies, carry the pipe to the installation point, carry parts, etc. this person may not participate in the installation in any manner).
If you have any questions you can contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal's Technical Services Unit at 978-567-3375 or in Western MA at 413-587-3181. The web site is www.mass.gov/dfs. You can also contact the Department of Public Safety at 617-727-3200 X 25208. Their web site is www.mass.gov/dps.