South Bend, Indiana, Local 75 tackles the Firestop Market

Mechanical Insulators Local 75 in South Bend, Ind., hosted the Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust Firestop Market Recovery Program from May 8 to 11. 

Local 75 Business Manager Andrew Miller took part in the training and other Local Union officers, including President Andrew Regnier, Vice President Keith Werner and Shad Robakowski. Employers were represented by Kevin Gradeless, Kem Gradeless and Mark Lehkor.  Such involvement offered a unique perspective of the Local’s involvement of Insulators with the various Firestop markets.  

“The firestop class provided a lot of information, and knowledge for the Local 75 contractors and officers helped us move forward in the part of our industry,” said Miller.LMCT 3

The LMCT Firestop Market Recovery Program is designed to bring together Local Union leadership and contractors to gain market share and increase manhours in regard to Firestopping. As part of the training, an assessment of the existing market was conducted and compared to other areas and best practices to ensure a customized approach appropriate for the South Bend market. Firestop contractor techniques and development was also addressed during the four-day class. Upon completion of the program, all parties gained knowledge of Firestopping, its intended purpose, where to bid it and how to complete it economically to increase the market share.

The event's first two days were dedicated to the Union leadership, while the last two days focused on the contractors. All parties were welcomed to attend the entire four days. 

Various topics reviewed covered the vast amount of knowledge of the Firestop industry that both labor and management need to realize, respect and value each other’s commitment to have a true vested partnership. 

Among the items discussed were: 

  • Basic Firestop concepts
  • The Local’s market analysis
  • FM/UL contractor qualifications
  • Bidding techniques
  • Training
  • Basic understanding of building codes and fire codes
  • Approved Firestop systems overview
  • QA/QC modes
  • Liabilities
  • Developing relationships with the fire inspection community
  • Where to locate Firestop in specifications 
  • Salesmanship from both the workers and contractors 
  • Other topics too numerous to list.  

Just as important was the spontaneous dialog between all the participants about their prior experiences, good and bad, to help develop a strategy for future initiatives.

The event successfully brought the labor-management partnership together to understand the commitment of each other’s responsibilities and what is needed to control the Firestop market.   

The class is only the beginning of a journey of hard work and cooperation to capture the Firestop market. Each partner understood the commitment that must be made in order to successfully work together and accomplish the ultimate goal – to capture the Firestop market. 

Nationwide, the union Firestop market had a large range of successes and failures and now is the time to change the paradigm of explanations for success.  For over 35 years, the industry was plagued with reasons and justifications not to control the market, and this has to change.  For several reasons, Firestop systems are the work of the Insulators:  

  1. Work techniques and materials are similar with Mechanical Insulation
  2. Timing the work is similar to Mechanical Insulation
  3. Specifications, in most cases, are within the Mechanical Insulation specifications
  4. Superior Mechanical Insulator training programs are needed to be able to utilize this very specific, highly skilled industry.

If any Insulators Local Union is interested in hosting the Firestop Market Recovery Program, please get in touch with LMCT Deputy Director Gina Walsh at 2



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