(1) To obtain a fire protection system contractor’s certificate, an applicant shall submit to the division an application in writing, on a form provided by the division containing the information prescribed, which shall be accompanied by the fee fixed herein, containing a statement that the applicant desires the issuance of a certificate and stating the class of certificate requested.
(2)(a) Examinations shall be administered by the division and held at times and places within the state as the division determines, but there shall be at least two examinations a year. Each applicant shall take and pass an objective, written examination of her or his fitness for a certificate in the class for which the application is requested. There shall be a type of examination for each class of certificate for contractors as defined in s. 633.102. The examination must test the applicant’s ability to lay out, fabricate, install, alter, repair, and inspect fire protection systems and their appurtenances and must test the applicant’s fitness in business and financial management. The test must be based on applicable standards of the National Fire Protection Association and on relevant Florida and federal laws pertaining to the construction industry, safety standards, administrative procedures, and pertinent technical data.
(b) A passing grade on the examination is 70 percent, and such examinations may be developed by an independent professional testing agency. The tests shall be prepared, administered, and scored in compliance with generally accepted professional testing standards.
(c) The division shall solicit suggestions from affected persons regarding the content of examinations.
(d) A reexamination may not be scheduled sooner than 30 days after any administration of an examination to an applicant.
(e) An applicant may not be examined more than four times during 1 year for certification as a contractor pursuant to this section unless the person is or has been certified and is taking the examination to change classifications. If an applicant does not pass one or more parts of the examination, she or he may take any part of the examination three more times during the 1-year period beginning upon the date she or he originally filed an application to take the examination. If the applicant does not pass the examination within that 1-year period, she or he must file a new application and pay the application and examination fees in order to take the examination or a part of the examination again. However, the applicant may not file a new application sooner than 6 months after the date of her or his last examination. An applicant who passes the examination but does not meet the remaining qualifications as provided in applicable statutes and rules within 1 year after the application date must file a new application, pay the application and examination fee, successfully complete a prescribed training course approved by the State Fire College or an equivalent course approved by the State Fire Marshal, and retake and pass the written examination.
(3)(a) As a prerequisite to taking the examination for certification as a Contractor I, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age, be of good moral character, and possess 4 years’ proven experience in the employment of a fire protection system Contractor I or a combination of equivalent education and experience in both water-based and chemical fire suppression systems.
(b) As a prerequisite to taking the examination for certification as a Contractor II, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age, be of good moral character, and have 4 years of verifiable employment experience with a fire protection system as a Contractor I or Contractor II, or a combination of equivalent education and experience in water-based fire suppression systems.
(c) Required education and experience for certification as a Contractor I, Contractor II, Contractor III, or Contractor IV includes training and experience in both installation and system layout as defined in s. 633.102.
(d) As a prerequisite to taking the examination for certification as a Contractor III, the applicant must be at least 18 years of age, be of good moral character, and have 4 years of verifiable employment experience with a fire protection system as a Contractor I or Contractor II, or a combination of equivalent education and experience in chemical fire suppression systems.
(e) As a prerequisite to taking the examination for certification as a Contractor IV, the applicant must be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character, be licensed as a certified plumbing contractor under chapter 489, and successfully complete a training program acceptable to the State Fire Marshal of not less than 40 contact hours regarding the applicable installation standard used by the Contractor IV as described in NFPA 13D. The State Fire Marshal may adopt rules to administer this subsection.
(f) As a prerequisite to taking the examination for certification as a Contractor V, the applicant must be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character, and have been licensed as a certified underground utility and excavation contractor or certified plumbing contractor pursuant to chapter 489, have verification by an individual who is licensed as a certified utility contractor or certified plumbing contractor pursuant to chapter 489 that the applicant has 4 years’ proven experience in the employ of a certified underground utility and excavation contractor or certified plumbing contractor, or have a combination of education and experience equivalent to 4 years’ proven experience in the employ of a certified underground utility and excavation contractor or certified plumbing contractor.
(g) Within 30 days after the date of the examination, the division shall inform the applicant in writing whether she or he has qualified or not and, if the applicant has qualified, that she or he is eligible to be issued a certificate of competency, subject to compliance with the requirements of subsection (4).
(4) As a prerequisite to issuance of a certificate, the division must require the applicant to submit satisfactory evidence that she or he has obtained insurance providing coverage for comprehensive general liability for bodily injury and property damages, products liability, completed operations, and contractual liability. The division may adopt rules providing for the amount of insurance, but such amount shall not be less than $500,000 for a Contractor I, Contractor II, Contractor III, or Contractor V and shall not be less than $250,000 for a Contractor IV. An insurer which provides such coverage shall notify the division within 30 days of any material change in coverage or any termination, cancellation, or nonrenewal of such coverage. An insurer which fails to so notify the division shall be subject to the penalties provided under s. 624.4211.
(5) Upon satisfaction of the requirements of subsections (1), (2), (3), and (4), the certificate shall be issued forthwith. However, no certificate shall remain in effect if, after issuance, the certificateholder fails to maintain the insurance coverage required by this section.
(6) If an applicant for an original certificate, after having been notified to do so, does not appear for examination or does not pass the examination within 1 year from the date of filing her or his application, the fee paid by the applicant shall be forfeited. New applications for a certificate shall be accompanied by another application fee fixed by this chapter.
(7) The State Fire Marshal may, at any time subsequent to the issuance of the certificate or its renewal, require, upon demand and in no event more than 30 days after notice of the demand, the certificateholder to provide proof of insurance coverage on a form provided by the State Fire Marshal containing confirmation of insurance coverage as required by this chapter. Failure to provide proof of insurance coverage as required, for any length of time, shall result in the immediate suspension of the certificate until proof of insurance is provided to the State Fire Marshal.
(8) An individual employed by a Contractor I or Contractor II certificateholder, as established in this section, who will be inspecting water-based fire protection systems as required under s. 633.312, must be issued a permit by the division to conduct such work. The permit is valid solely for use by the holder thereof in his or her employment by the certificateholder named in the permit. A permittee must have a valid and subsisting permit upon his or her person at all times while engaging in inspecting fire protection systems, and a permitholder must be able to produce such a permit upon demand. In addition, a permittee shall, at all times while performing inspections, carry an identification card containing his or her photograph and other identifying information as prescribed by the State Fire Marshal, and the permittee must produce the identification card and information upon demand. The permit and the identification may be one and the same. A permittee is limited as to the specific type of work performed, depending upon the class of certificate held by the certificateholder under whom the permittee is working. The permit class shall be known as a Water-Based Fire Protection Inspector whose permit allows the holder to inspect water sprinkler systems, water spray systems, foam-water sprinkler systems, foam-water spray systems, standpipes, combination standpipes and sprinkler systems, all piping that is an integral part of the system beginning at the point where the piping is used exclusively for fire protection, sprinkler tank heaters, air lines, thermal systems used in connection with sprinklers, and tanks and pumps connected thereto, excluding preengineered systems.
(9) It is the intent of the Legislature that the inspections and testing of automatic fire sprinkler systems for detached one-family dwellings, detached two-family dwellings, and mobile homes be accomplished by the owner, who is responsible for requesting service from a contractor when necessary. It is further intended that the NFPA-25 inspection of exposed underground piping and any attached appurtenances supplying a fire protection system be conducted by a Contractor I or Contractor II.
(10) The State Fire Marshal shall require the National Institute of Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET), Sub-field of Inspection and Testing of Fire Protection Systems Level II or equivalent training and education as determined by the division as proof that the permitholders are knowledgeable about nationally accepted standards for the inspection of fire protection systems.
(11) It is intended that a certificateholder, or a permitholder who is employed by a certificateholder, conduct inspections required by this chapter. It is understood that after July 1, 2008, employee turnover may result in a depletion of personnel who are certified under the NICET Sub-field of Inspection and Testing of Fire Protection Systems Level II or equivalent training and education as required by the division. A certificateholder may obtain a provisional permit with an endorsement for inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based fire extinguishing systems for an employee if the employee has initiated procedures for obtaining Level II certification from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies Sub-field of Inspection and Testing of Fire Protection Systems and achieved Level I certification or an equivalent level as determined by the State Fire Marshal through verification of experience, training, and examination. The division may establish rules to administer this subsection. After 2 years of provisional certification, the employee must have achieved NICET Level II certification or obtain equivalent training and education as determined by the division, or cease performing inspections requiring Level II certification. The provisional permit is valid only for the 2 calendar years after the date of issuance, may not be extended, and is not renewable. After the initial 2-year provisional permit expires, the certificateholder must wait 2 additional years before a new provisional permit may be issued. The intent is to prohibit the certificateholder from using employees who never reach NICET Level II status, or equivalent training and education as determined by the division, by continuously obtaining provisional permits.