Flint could hire non-licensed plumbers to replace pipes - WNEM TV 5

Flint could hire non-licensed plumbers to replace pipes

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

The city of Flint is getting ready to accept bids for the next phase in the Fast Start Program, which is looking to replace 6,000 more pipes.

There is one requirement the city no longer needs and it is raising some questions.

"This would be no place that you would want to abandon a licensing requirement, especially with what's happened in Flint," said Harold Harrington, manager of Plumbers and Pipefitters U.A. Local 370.

The city of Flint is seeking contractors to replace lead tainted service lines throughout the city. This time the workers do not need to be certified plumbers.

"Plumbing licenses are there to protect the health of the residents. That's why there is a plumbing law," Harrington said.

Harrington said he was alarmed when he read the new relaxed requirements. He initially thought it was an oversight. He said the city is in no position to take chances.

Harrington reached out to city officials to find out if they would be adding back the licensing requirement.

Certified plumbers have 6,000 hours of on-the-job training, something non-certified workers would not be required to have. Harrington said there's no way to know if non-certified workers would do the job correctly.

He also said it's good for the community when Flint residents are hired as professionals to do the important work.

"I mean, that's the benefit of hiring licensed plumbers to do this work. When this is done and complete the residents will have a career that they'll be able to work at the rest of their lives, and not just a temporary job," Harrington said.

City officials were not available to comment on the matter.

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