Florida glaziers embracing licensing requirements, says SEGA executive director
A new law took effect in Florida, July 1, requiring contract glaziers obtain a license to complete glass and glazing work in residential and commercial applications. HB 849, which was passed during the 2011 legislative session and signed by Governor Rick Scott on June 24, changed the glass and glazing contractor category from a specialty licensing category to a Division II licensing category.
"Glaziers for the most part have embraced this move," says Bruce Kershner, executive director of the Southeast Glass Association.
Greg Burkhart, president, Key Glass, agrees. "Any Florida contract glazier should be happy about it. Licensing requirements should be helpful to the industry, as they force people to take the effort to become a bona fide business."
The licensing is particularly important in Florida, he says. "The technical nature and importance of installing hurricane-resistant glass systems has changed significantly. [Glazing contractors] need to be properly licensed," Burkhart says.
Kershner adds, "This is a health and safety issue, especially here in Florida, where we need to consider hurricanes. We want to have competent people here in Florida installing storefronts and windows on a building to make sure the systems hold up in a wind event. We have heard a lot of horror stories about systems that were not installed correctly and failed."
Glass and glazing contractors have been able to obtain voluntary licenses in the state for several years. In 2003, SEGA worked with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Construction Industry Licensing Board to develop a voluntary license for contract glaziers. "This was our first step into licensing," Kershner says. "Several years after we got the voluntary license in place, the board started talking about making it mandatory. We didn't really pursue [it] until this year, when a building code bill was being put together."
Glaziers that obtained the voluntary license—more than 240—automatically receive the state certification. "Those glaziers can continue working and don't have to do anything else," Kershner says.
While the law is already in effect, Kershner doesn't expect strict enforcement to start immediately. "The Governor didn't sign the bill until June 24. That's not a lot of lead time for people to get prepared. I think most people recognize that everyone needs to have some time to go ahead and get licensed," he says.
The DBPR has taken steps to ease the licensing process, including adding exam dates. "In the past, the exam was only given three times a year, in February, June and October. They have already stepped it up and are giving an exam in August and have added one for December," Kershner says.
The licensure exam takes two days, with one day focused on glass and glazing, and one day on business administration, Kershner says. "There are exam preparation schools that assist candidates, get them proper reference materials," he says. The exam is open book. "Someone who is used to working in the field will really understand the trade portion of the exam, but may need to bone up on the business side of things," he says. "The schools will help people prepare."
For more information, the Southeast Glass Association developed a document on licensing information. Additionally, the DBPR posted frequently asked questions about the glass and glazing contract licensure category, provided by the licensing board. The DBPR website also Sincludes information about the various construction categories licensed by Florida, including the scope of work for a glass and glazing contractor.