Steel Shots: Up on the Iron

Steel Conference attendees had the opportunity to try their hand at column-climbing and other ironworker training activities during a tour of the Ironworkers Local Union 808 facility in Orlando, Fla. 

When we think of steel erection, we often think of the big cranes that hoist beams and columns into the air but not always that people that are operating them—or in many cases literally climbing the structure.

And when we go on building site tours, while the work is ongoing, the framing and flooring is already in place—otherwise, tours might be kind of difficult. We see all kinds of workers on the site, doing what they do. But ironworkers and erectors are the ones that come in first and give everyone else something solid to work on. “We’re the Marines of the construction industry,” said Henry Kendrick, business manager for the Ironworkers Local Union 808 in Orlando, Fla. “We take the beach, we set the flag and then the other trades come.”

The union played host to 40 or so attendees of this year’s NASCC: The Steel Conference (mostly engineers), which took place in Orlando in April, and gave them a glimpse into what goes into becoming an ironworker. Organized by IMPACT (Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust), the tour provided an overview of the ironworker profession, discussed the rigorous training procedures that ironworkers must go through, let attendees walk through the training facility and even gave them the chance to test their own skills.

The Local 808 facility is one of 154 such training facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada and puts roughly 120 trainees through its apprenticeship program every year. For more about the tour and other highlights from The Steel Conference, see the article “Steel in the Sunshine State” in our current June issue (available now!).