May 12, 2010
To kick off National Electrical Safety Month on May 1, The Electrical Connection upgraded electrical systems in low-income homes across St. Louis in a partnership with the annual Rebuilding Together St. Louis campaign. Approximately 125 IBEW Local One electricians and NECA electrical contractors are donating $80,000 in manpower and material to make 50 homes safer for disadvantaged families. The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local One and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
Work began May 1 when more than 20 service trucks fanned out through low-income neighborhoods. Work will continue until all improvements are made. It is the seventh year in a row that The Electrical Connection has supported Rebuilding Together. During that time, it has donated $480,000 in labor and material to improve 300 homes for low-income, elderly St. Louisans.
"The Electrical Connection's IBEW/NECA partnership is essential to ensuring low-income residents are living in safe conditions," said Dave Ervin, Rebuilding Together executive director. "It's their expert eyes that discover and fix potentially dangerous electrical hazards. Without their help, these repairs would simply not get done."
In the past seven years, the most common hazards found by the Electrical Connection are nonfunctional fixtures, exposed service panels and wire splices, and outlets within six feet of a water source that are not protected by a ground fault interrupter.
"What's really inspiring this year is that our volunteers have been struggling with unemployment in a construction industry mired in a deep recession, but they still feel compelled to give back to the community," said Stephen P. Schoemehl, IBEW Local One business manager. "I'm extremely proud of their dedication to this annual effort to help others."
Spotlighting National Electrical Safety Month
The Electrical Connection's initiative coincides with May being National Electrical Safety Month. According to the United States Fire Administration, home electrical problems cause 7,800 fires, 485 deaths and $868 million in property damage on average each year.
A 2008 study by the Fire Protection Research Foundation said aged homes are most susceptible to fires spawned by outdated and/or improperly installed electrical infrastructure and that the dangers can often remain hidden. It found that most hazards were caused by improper installation and maintenance and a failure to meet the safety provisions of the National Electrical Code (NEC).
"It's our hope that The Electrical Connection's efforts in Rebuilding Together will help people understand the importance of ensuring all electrical installations or upgrades are performed in accord with the NEC," explained Douglas R. Martin, executive vice president of the St. Louis Chapter, NECA. "Always check credentials to ensure that only a licensed electrical contractor is performing work on your home." The Electrical Connection offers a complete list of qualified, licensed NECA/IBEW electrical contractors at http://www.electricalconnection.org.
Participating in the Rebuilding Together were American Electric & Data, Inc.,Aschinger Electric Co., Beach Electric Co.,Bell Electrical Contractors, Benson Electric Co., Branson Electric Co.,Butler Electrical Contracting Co.,Byrne Electric Co., Inc., DeSoto Ozark Electric, Dickherber Electric, Inc., Good Electric, Inc., Guarantee Electrical Co.,J. Bathe Electric, JAG Electrical Systems LLC, Kaemmerlen Electric, Kay-Bee Electric Co., Liberty Electric, Inc., M.R. Bathe Electric, Northwest Electric Co., Inc., PayneCrest Electric, Sachs Electric Co., Schaeffer Electric Co., Inc., Schneider Electric Co. and Trinity Quality Electric, Inc. The St. Louis Area Electricians Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee (JATC) also participated.