Public Hearing Shows Favor to Current Tradesmen Regulations - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Public Hearing Shows Favor to Current Tradesmen Regulations

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A possible change in requirements could impact tradesmen who work on your home.

A public hearing Wednesday night in Roanoke focused on a state proposal to do away with classes required to renew workers' licenses every two years.

Currently in Virginia, all tradesman, such as plumbers, electricians, well water system specialists, or air system workers, are required to be licensed and renew those licenses every two years.

Blacksburg building safety official Cathy Cook says each tradesman is required to take a number of continuing education courses each year to qualify for license renewal.

"Training is essential to tradesman, contractors, and even building officials, to keep up to date on the most modern codes, technologies, [and] new products," Cook said.

Cook says making sure tradesman meet those requirements is a huge safety issue.

"These folks are working in our schools, our homes, our hospitals, and it's important that they keep up to date with training to make sure everything is done properly."

But a new proposal by the state board for contractors may do away with those continuing education requirements all together.

George Hollingsworth, 30-year captain with Fairfax Fire and Rescue says doing so would be more costly to the home and business owners fixing problems that could have been prevented.

"Like getting compliance after it wasn't complied with in the beginning," Hollingsworth said in reference to the difficulties of building inspections.

But he, along with many other trade professionals who proudly sported their tradesman cards, say it's a safety concern, especially when it comes to fire protection systems.

"Fire alarms, sprinklers, those kinds of things are life safety issues," he said. "If they don't function as designed, if a business owner hires an electrician to come in and to make sure that these systems are working and that tradesperson doesn't have the knowledge to make sure these systems are working, that entire building is at risk."

At Wednesday night's meeting, not one person spoke in favor of cutting required training.

In fact, Joel Baker, Roanoke County building commissioner, presented almost 500 signatures petitioning against the move. He says folks who couldn't be at the meeting agreed in mass majority that training is important.

Public comment is open on this matter until Oct. 25, 2013. If you would like to comment, submit your statement in writing to DPOR, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400 Richmond, VA 23233.