By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
On the coldest morning of the season so far, 33 degrees at 6 a.m., with the first frost on the ground, volunteers from Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 headed out for the annual “Heat’s On,” program Saturday, Oct. 12.
“It’s cold out there this morning,” Local 562 Business Representative Dick Kellett told the volunteers, “but it also reminds us of the importance of checking furnaces as we head out to ensure that our retired members are safe and warm this winter.”
This year’s event – the same that has helped thousands since its inception in 1986 – carried the theme “Vets helping Vets,” said Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer John O’Mara. Letters were sent inviting all 562 retirees and retired veterans to benefit from the member’s volunteer services.
The highly-trained and skilled HVAC specialists from Local 562 volunteered to do furnace inspections and complete any small repairs needed. Signatory contractors were generous in the use of their trucks and equipment.
‘A BIG DAY FOR ALL OF US’
“It’s a great day for veterans, but “Heat’s On” is a big day for all of us,” O’Mara told the group of 200 or more journeymen and apprentices. “Today, we’re helping our retirees. How cool is that? And the guys love seeing you. This makes you proud to be a member of Local 562.”
Homeowner and retired 562 plumber Roddy Taylor of Bridgeton, was first on the check-up list for Journeyman Bruce Brown and Apprentice Cody Branneky. The two teaming together brought back memories for Business Representative and event organizer Larry Baker, who served as an apprentice under Brannekey’s grandfather, Roy Branneky.
In previous years, the Union worked with social service agencies to identify those in need, but now, Baker said, it’s good to help our retired members make sure their furnaces are safe.
Taylor served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1970. He worked as a plumber, most recently for Murphy Heating and Cooling, prior to retirement.
“When I got the letter, I jumped on it,” said Taylor. “This is an opportunity to work with guys that you know are skilled, and willing to use those skills to ensure our furnaces are working properly for another winter season.”