As the mercury began to dip earlier this fall and furnaces cranked up in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, a near tragedy drove home the importance of the community service partnership between Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) Locals 539 and 455 and the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association.
Each fall, the groups come together for their annual “Heat’s On” furnace inspection drive that provides free furnace safety checkups and tune-ups for senior homeowners and low-income families. Some 176 union volunteers serviced 182 homes, and in 10 of those homes, they found furnaces that were emitting dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
The volunteers discovered one of those faulty furnaces when they knocked on the door of Jim and Ruth Ann Palermo’s Saint Paul home for a scheduled inspection, but got no answer. After quickly checking with neighbors and making phone calls, they discovered the Palermos had been taken to the hospital because they were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Later, the inspection found their furnace was putting out deadly levels of carbon monoxide. “Heat’s On” has since installed a new furnace along with a state-of-the-art carbon monoxide detector.