Volume 3 Number 38
September 18, 2006

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GALLAGHER URGES CONTRACTORS TO SIGN UP TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, has announced that licensed contractors who do retrofit improvements can now apply on-line to participate in the My Safe Florida Home program. The application to participate is available under "For Contractors" at www.mysafefloridahome.com.

“Our mission is to strengthen homes in Florida against the devastating effects of storm damage,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Contractors who participate in this program will play a key role in better protecting families and properties from catastrophic losses.”

Prior to participating, a contractor must have a valid contractor’s license and complete a four-hour course on techniques and standards for effective wind-resistant retrofit improvements. The Department of Financial Services has been working with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) to offer these courses around the state over the next few months. The first class, which is approved by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation for four continuing education credits, was conducted on August 29th in St. Petersburg.

“The Blueprint for Safety Retrofit training courses will expand the team of qualified, ready builders who can provide essential hurricane-hardening services to Floridians through the My Safe Florida Home program,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson.

Upcoming trainings have been scheduled for interested contractors in the following areas:

• September 20 in Ft. Lauderdale -Fort Lauderdale Marriott North
• September 21 in Miami - Robert Morgan Educational Center
• September 22 in Lake Worth - Palm Beach Community College
• September 25 in Pensacola - Pensacola Junior College
• September 26 in Jacksonville - Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center

All contractor trainings will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. Although facilities have not yet been secured, additional trainings are tentatively scheduled for Orlando on October 10, Tampa on October 17, Ft. Myers on October 18, Naples on October 19, and Miami on October 20. For additional details, log on to www.flash.org.

Homeowners who have undergone free home inspections through the My Safe Florida Home program, and who live in high-risk areas, will be able to apply for matching grant dollars up to $5,000 under the program. The grant funds must be used to strengthen the areas of the homes specified in the inspection reports.

To do the recommended improvements, homeowners will be required to choose from a list of participating contractors, organized by county and type of work performed. The list of participating contractors will be available on-line at www.mysafefloridahome.com by October 1. The list will also be sent to eligible Floridians in the grant application packet.

Gallagher is urging all homeowners interested in making home-hardening improvements to verify that the contractors they are doing business with are licensed. For more tips to consider before hiring a contractor, log on to www.mysafefloridahome.com and click on “5 Tips for Choosing a Contractor.”

Since August 15, more than 45,000 Floridians have submitted completed applications to receive a free home inspection through the My Safe Florida Home program. Gallagher’s goal is to do 12,000 inspections before this hurricane season ends on November 30.