STAFFORD -  Ron Kessner, owner of Fireplaces Plus in Manahawkin played an extremely important role in the passage of important new legislation in New Jersey. Recently New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed S1303/A3118, also known as the “Master Hearth Specialist Bill” into law on Friday, August 23, 2019. The Master Hearth Specialist bill creates licensing for “Master Hearth Specialist.”

Kessner's prominent role in the industry includes serving as the Mid-Atlantic Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association's Vice President and Government Affairs Committee Chair.  Kessner was instrumental in the passing of this legislation in New Jersey.  

The need for this licensing was created in 2007 when New Jersey established a license for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration contractors.

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“Experience and education are the keys to public safety” said Kessner. “The passage of the Master Hearth Specialist bill does more than just save jobs. It also protects the public by now requiring the Hearth Professional to be experienced, educated and state licensed.”

Fireplace installers, also known as hearth specialists, sought enactment of this recent legislation because they feared losing their ability to continue to install and service gas lines, prefabricated fireplaces, inserts, decorative appliances, B-Vent and Direct Vent Flues, and any flue pipe that removes products of combustion, to the HVACR Contractor.

This fear became a reality in 2017, when the HVACR regulation on exclusivity was proposed and MAHPBA members began to experience denied permits because they were not HVACR licensees or plumbers.

“The passage of the MHS bill is a huge victory and one our industry can be proud of, but we are not done yet” added Kessner. “The next step is to guide our membership through the licensing process.

Kurt Evers, MAHPBA's President wrote “Due to the tireless efforts of MAHPBA’s Government Affairs team, MAHPBA was able to reverse enforcement, hold off the regulation on exclusivity, and finally, pass legislation that will protect our membership for years to come” 

The Mid-Atlantic Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is a trade association representing the hearth, patio and barbecue industries in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.