Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust (LMCT) Executive Director Pete Ielmini appeared on the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed the benefits of firestop work and a LMCT program to help both contractors and members of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers regain market share in this industry.
In June, the LMCT put on a four-day Firestop Market Recovery Program, which was held in Pennsylvania. Participants included Local Unions and their signatory contractors.
The event brought contractors and union leaders together to discuss the need to recapture the firestop safety market, he said. Ielmini said he wants the LMCT to hold similar strategy sessions across the U.S. and Canada.
The correct installation of firestop technology saves lives
Ielmini recalled how the firestop market has significantly evolved over the past 30 years He credited IAHFIAW General President Emeritus James Grogan, Jr., who recently passed away, for his vision and leadership capabilities to push the Insulators Union to get into the firestop market.
The purpose of a firestop system is to contain a fire within a single room so it does not destroy a building, Ielmini explained. Thanks to firestop technology, there is no reason why fire or smoke should ever spread beyond a single room, Ielmini said.
Sadly, many firestop systems are not properly installed. Ielmini pointed to a recent tragic apartment fire in New York City that took 17 lives as an example of the consequences of inadequately installed firestop measures.
Fire inspectors have a tremendous responsibility to ensure a building is safe, including checking to ensure proper firestop measures are installed, Ielmini said. The LMCT offers free training for fire inspectors to perform these inspections in the interest of saving lives and protecting property, he said. The LMCT is also collaborating with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to conduct firestop inspections on public housing projects, he added.
Firestop technology can be a lucrative business
Ielmini said the Firestop Market Recovery Program is unique because it is tailored to a union’s specific market and jurisdiction. He said many Local Unions and contractors have concerns about the work, but the program is designed to address and overcome those concerns.
Ielmini said the opportunities in firestop can be lucrative for both contractors and Local Union members. He noted this is a good opportunity to replace manhours lost as coal power plants continue to close throughout the U.S.