Dayton, Ohio — I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Scandaliato's article in the June issue in which he asserts that plumbing contractors are best suited to install residential sprinklers. For more than 100 years, plumbing and sprinkler fitting have developed and been maintained as separate unique crafts. In most circumstances, plumbers do not install fire sprinklers and sprinkler fitters do not install plumbing equipment.
In his article, he states that he has made observations, which only he is capable of making, apparently due to his position on the NFPA committee. I will not dispute his qualifications to sit on a committee, but he is dead wrong about this matter. Sprinkler fitters and plumbers complete different apprenticeship programs. When I served my apprenticeship, I was not taught how to install toilets, and plumbers are likewise not instructed how to install fire sprinklers.
Union signatory contractors are likewise required to observe the jurisdictional union guidelines and a union plumbing contractor could face fines or strikes from the union if they attempted to have plumbers install fire sprinklers.
Contrary to his observations, fire sprinkler contractors have been installing residential fire sprinklers since the beginning. Many sprinkler contractors specialize exclusively in the residential market. A listing of contractors performing this work can be obtained from the National Fire Sprinkler Association and the American Fire Sprinkler Association, the respective trade associations.
Mr. Scandaliato also observes that most plumbing contractors will perform this work at cost since they work in volume and will bid to get the entire tract, thus saving the general contractor money. This may be true, but doing work for free would be a stupid decision for any plumber or sprinkler contractor and certainly does not add merit to his argument.
The fire sprinkler industry, encompassing contractors, manufacturers and labor unions have fought hard and expensive battles to codify residential sprinklers. Now groups like the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors and other “independent experts” want to profit off of our labor because they need the work. The plumbing industry should stick to developing the green portion of their industry and leave fire sprinkler installation to the same people that have been doing it for the last 100 years.