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Unlicensed electrician’s work leads to fire in Hamilton home and $10K in damages

August 14, 2023 | By Anthony Capkun

August 14, 2023 – On June 15, Jacson T. pleaded guilty and was convicted in Hamilton, Ont., for operating an electrical contracting business without an electrical contractor’s licence.

He was ordered to pay a $7500 fine, plus a victim surcharge of $1875, for work he conducted at a Hamilton residential property.

The defendant was hired by a homeowner for a basement renovation, which included electrical, painting, and the addition of a new bathroom. From November 1, 2021, to February 28, 2022, the defendant installed new switches, potlights and outlets at the residential property.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the unlicensed contractor had removed the backing of the potlights, covered junction boxes with drywall, and used out-of-code materials.

Shorted wires eventually caused a fire that damaged a large section of property, totalling nearly $10,000 in damages to the homeowners.

The subsequent ESA investigation uncovered that Jacson T. was operating without an Electrical Contractor’s Licence and had failed to apply for an electrical permit for the work he was doing.

“Illegal electrical work can have serious consequences, including fires or even electrocution,” said Emily Larose, vice-president of Regulatory and General Counsel, Electrical Safety Authority.

An administrative authority acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario, ESA is responsible for administering specific regulations related to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the licensing of electrical contractors and master electricians, electricity distribution system safety, and electrical product safety.

“To ensure that your electrical work is safe and compliant, it’s critical that you hire only Licensed Electrical Contractors who file a notification of work with the Electrical Safety Authority,” Larose added.

In Ontario, watch for these red flags when hiring an electrical contractor/electrician:

• There is no ECRA/ESA licence number on their work vehicle or estimate.
• The contractor won’t show you their electrical contractor licence number when asked.
• They often do more than just electrical work e.g. drywall, flooring, plumbing, snow removal, etc.
• They are not listed on the ESA’s Contractor Look-Up tool.
• They ask the homeowner to get the ESA permit, or say that it is not needed.
• They offer a discount if you pay cash and/or they only accept only cash and/or they won’t provide a receipt.
• They say “If anyone asks, tell them you did the work yourself”.

You can report unlicensed electrical contractors through ESA’s anonymous reporting tool at esasafe.com/reportacontractor.

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