Build With Strength Hosts Philadelphia Legislators, Organized Labor, Community Groups and Construction Industry for Roundtable Discussion about Safer, Non-Combustible Construction
On May 23, 2019, Build With Strength hosted a roundtable discussion (shown here) alongside State Representative Joe Hohenstein, Wayne Miller, assistant business manager of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council and business manager of Sprinkler Fitters Local 692, Mark Wildsmith, vice president of Mid-Atlantic District Council of Plasterers & Cement Masons and NRMCA's Kathleen Carr-Smith to discuss their shared commitment to improve safety standards and building codes in Philadelphia in order to keep residents and first responders safe.
“What I’ve found is that we have to focus on building structures that are going to withstand the elements long-term,” said Representative Hohenstein, a vocal proponent for the coalition. “The problem is when construction is so fast, is so rushed, and you don’t have skilled labor and you’re not using materials that can last a hundred years. They’ll last maybe five or 10 and place people’s health and safety at risk.”
Amid the disturbing uptick of wood-framed building fires, organized labor leaders of Philadelphia have championed the call for stronger building codes and positive, preventative change.
“Concrete and NFPA13 sprinkler systems are about as safe as you can get, period,” said Miller, who is also a member of the Build With Strength coalition. “Especially when we look at new construction – it is very important when you tear something down that you build it back up with concrete. It’s good for everyone: it’s good for the people living there and it’s good for the city of Philadelphia.”
“Fire safety, strength of materials, and quality of the contractors – that’s what makes the difference,” added Wildsmith. “I mean people live in these buildings, they have families, they have kids. They’re living on the third floor of a stick-built, it’s crazy to me.”
Additional organized labor groups counted among Build With Strength Philadelphia’s coalition members include the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1291, Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee, Philadelphia Metal Trades Council, Iron Workers Local Union 405, Cement Masons Local Union 592, Bricklayers & Allied Crafts Local Union 1, Teamsters Local 830, Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers Local Union 14 and Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 19.