A law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Aug. 23 creates a license for hearth professionals to continue installing fireplaces, barbecues and other appliances.
Members of the Mid-Atlantic Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association have been installing hearth products for decades but were affected by unforeseen consequences created by the establishment of a license for heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) workers in 2007.
After a provision proposed in 2017 would have given plumbers and HVACR contractors exclusivity in installing gas lines, MAHPBA members soon began experiencing denials of gas line permits, according to its attorney Steven Corodemus of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla in Red Bank.
Although the exclusivity provision was not adopted, the MAHPBA pushed for legislation to ensure its members would remain able to do their jobs.
Assembly Bill 3118 and Senate Bill 1303 were sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-3rd District, and Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, respectively.
“My mission was to convince our elected officials that these small businesses have peacefully coexisted with the Goliaths and can continue to do so under the bill,” said Corodemus in a statement.
The legislation, which passed both houses in June, requires hearth professionals to have at least five years of experience in professional hearth work and obtain certification as master hearth professionals from a nationally recognized body.
Hearth professionals install, repair, maintain and service hearth products, barbecues and patio firepits. Additionally, they inspect, repair or install vents, masonry, metal and factory-built chimneys and vent systems, and natural or manufactured gas piping.
Most fireplace manufacturers recommend that master hearth professionals, who are required to complete courses and pass exams from the National Fireplace Institute, install their products.
“When appliances with flames are installed in a residence or business, the public must be protected by ensuring that only trained professionals undertake that work,” Corodemus said.
The licenses created by the new law will be sub-licensees of the State Board of Examiners of HVACR Contractors.
MAHPBA’s legislative chairman, and the owner of Fireplace Plus in Manahawkin, said in a statement that the organization “could not be happier” with the creation of the state license, crediting Corodemus.