Local 6 hosts Firestop  Market Recovery Program

HFIAW Local 6 Boston recently hosted a Firestop  Market Recovery Program class for its members and  signatory contractors.  

Several leaders from other Locals in the New York/ New England States Conference attended the class, which was held from March 7-10 at the Local 6 Union Hall.  

Local 6 Business Manager Jeff Saliba and New York/ New England States Conference International Vice  President James R. Lister, who formerly served as Local  6 Business Manager, served as hosts.  

Other union leaders at the event came from the following Locals: Local 4, Buffalo, N.Y.; Local 12, New  York; Local 26, Rochester, N.Y.; Local 30, Syracuse,  N.Y.; Local 33, Connecticut; Local 40, Albany N.Y. and  Local 91, White Plains N.Y.  

The Mechanical Insulators Labor Management  Cooperative Trust (LMCT) established the Firestop Market  Recovery Program (FMRP) to bring together Local Union leadership and signatory contractors to work together to gain market share and increase manhours in the Firestopping industry.  

During the program, participants assessed the existing Firestop market and compared it to other areas and best practices. This allowed for a customized approach to be developed specifically for the Boston market.

Firestop contractor techniques and development were also addressed. Upon completion of the program, all parties gained knowledge of Firestopping, its intended purpose, where to bid the work and how to complete the work economically to increase market share. 

“We have to claim this work, and we need our contractors to win bids,” Saliba said.  

Members of Local 6 currently perform Firestop work at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, but Local 6 wants to crack into the commercial sector, as they face the loss of future mechanical insulation work in the changing industrial arena.  

“Powerhouses are closing down and being replaced by solar farms,” Saliba said. “It’s about the hours. We’ve  got to make up the lost hours, and our members are eager  to do the work.” 

Lister believes the course plays a key role in helping  Local Unions and their contractors win back work that rightfully belongs to the Insulators. 

“Firestop has always been a part of our industry, but in many areas, we never really chased the work,” he said.  “Jurisdictionally, it’s our work, and we need to get back  into it.”

The first half of the four-day event was dedicated to the Local Union leadership, while the last two days focused on the contractors. All parties were welcome to attend the entire four days.  

Strengthening a partnership one step at a time

Various topics were reviewed with the objective of creating a truly invested partnership between the Local and its signatory contractors. Some of the many topics covered  in the course included:  

  • Basic Firestop concepts  
  • The Local’s market analysis 
  • FM/UL contractor qualifications 
  • Bidding techniques 
  • Training  
  • A 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  

The LMCT’s event was facilitated by representatives from Superior Industrial Insulation Company, Tom Dake,  Sr. and Tom Dake, Jr. As a signatory contractor with multiple Insulator Local Unions, Superior has become a  national leader in the Firestop industry.  

“The Dakes did a great job,” said Lister. “They  provided excellent information and explained how they  command the market.” 

Open and honest discussions were held between members of the Local and its signatory contractors, which allowed the participants to understand their roles better when dealing with non-union employers, building trades labor issues and the direction needed to control the labor in the market. 

The union leadership discussed prior successes,  failures and obstacles within the current market, while the employers presented their concerns with a refreshing and realistic concept and a sense of cooperation.  

Additionally, a positive and healthy discussion took  place regarding the Boston area’s use of a unique type of  Firestop product called “Flame Bar.”  

There were multiple representatives from the following contractors participating in the program: Quality  Insulation, LLC; Dynamic-Insulation Inc.; KIM Industries  Inc.; Thermo-Dynamic International, Inc.; Aura Insulators and Eastern Regional Contracting, Inc.

This program is the beginning of a long journey of hard work and commitment for Local 6 and its signatory contractors. Thanks to the LMCT class, both sides have developed a shared strategy to capture the Firestop market.  

“Our next step is to have conversations with the electricians and pipefitters who are currently doing this work,” said Saliba, who explained that at the International level, the Insulators and IBEW have an agreement that Firestopping is the Insulator's work.  

Saliba also encouraged other Locals to take advantage of the opportunity to host an LMCT FMRP class.  

“If they see the future the way I do, with technology taking work away from us, they will have to make up the hours,” he said. 

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