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Wednesday, April 17, 2024


Jan. 29, 2002 – Representatives of two mainland building trades unions made their respective cases before the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee Monday night on developing a new plumbing code for the territory that would conform to mainland standards.
G.P. "Russ" Chaney, executive director of the International Association of Plumbers and Mechanical Officials, voiced support for the Uniform Plumbing Code.
Gilberto Toledo, representing the International Conference of Building Officials, told the committee that the International Plumbers Code is better for the territory because it would adequately protect the health, safety and welfare of those providing and receiving plumbing services.
On Tuesday, Michael Boyce of Boyce Plumbing Contractor on St. Croix said the territory currently uses the National Standard Plumbers Code. Boyce wasn't able to attend Monday's hearing on St. Thomas but he said he favors the Uniform Plumbing Code. "It makes sense," he said. "It's simpler, and it will make us uniform with the states."
At the hearing, Chaney said the UPC would bring the V.I. code into compliance with national standards and would also allow for input from the territory's plumbers.
Toledo, responding to questions from Sen. Roosevelt David, said the IPC does not unnecessarily increase construction costs or restrict the use of new materials or methods of construction. David said on Tuesday he felt that his questions had not been answered fully.
Several veteran local plumbers at the hearing also expressed support for the Uniform Code, saying it has many provisions which allow local plumbers a say in any changes being considered.
A new code is necessary, Sen. Carlton Dowe said, but it should not create barriers for V.I. plumbers. "It should be made compatible with the unique situations faced by local plumbers," he said.
Sen. Adelbert Bryan said that local plumbers who fail to pass exams developed by mainland organizations are prevented from realizing their full earning potential because "they will only be qualified as apprentices."
Chaney said the current V.I. examination for a plumber's license is "a joke" because it was written by mainlanders who "don't know anything about the islands."
The committee chair, Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, stressed that any changes in the code must provide financial and employment benefits for local plumbers. He said his committee will begin drafting a bill and will invite pertinent government agencies and local plumbers to another hearing.
Committee members attending the meeting in addition to Cole were Sens. Bryan, David, Dowe and Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg. Sens. Celestino A. White Sr. and Alicia "Chucky" Hansen were absent.

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