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'No, I Don't Look Like A Plumber'

I have been a plumber for the past 20 years. I just skimmed through the March issue, and don't know how I missed Ellen Rohr's column, “Do I Look Like A Plumber?” I can really understand how Ellen felt. I have had such wonderful experiences with the men in the field. I've had my ups and downs, but I never really felt it was because I was a woman.

I love what I do so much and feel real pride in my work. I have two master plumbers' licenses, one from the state of Rhode Island and one for the city of Scranton, Pa., and its surrounding areas. I have my own business and I work by myself, but sometimes get my husband to help or my son.

I would love to help encourage any young person who would like to get into the field, but I really don't know where to start.

I belong to the Master Plumbers and Heating Contractors Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I miss them since I moved to Rhode Island. I also belong to the Rhode Island Trades Women's Association and NAWIC. I have so much to say about being in the trades.
Melanie Aldrich
Melanie Aldrich and Son
East Providence, R.I.

P.S. I have long nails and I don't look like a plumber!

Ellen Rohr responds: Thanks for your e-mail. Good for you for being a winning woman plumber! “Women in plumbing” is a hot topic at the PM office. Don't miss my December column either. The PM team will be putting on a national program in June to discuss how to handle our industry's labor shortage by, among other topics, wooing women to the industry. Be sure to pass word around. Let's see how much interest is out there.

Safety First

I am responding to Jason Bradley's “Dual Purpose” tool (“Tool Tips,” November 2005). I think it's great that a tool can be used for two different jobs, but what about personal safety first? Any journeyman knows that you do not strike a hardened sharp object with another hardened object, such as the head of a hammer. This could cause a piece of the chisel to break off and injure someone.

I, instead, have a tool that I made to do the same job more safely. Take a 5/8-inch solid rod (all thread or plain rod) and drill a 5/16-inch hole the depth of the drive pin head in the end of the rod. This tool can be made from any scrap piece of rod and, if lost, it can be replaced for pennies.
Allen Girardin
Nelson Carlson Mechanical
Rockford, Ill.

Jason Bradley responds: I respect your comment on my Tool Tip, and do like your idea of the threaded rod.

I work for a very large mechanical contracting company that has an awesome safety record. We have offices in Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. I have no idea how many employees there are between all, but I can say our office in Lexington has gone seven straight years with no lost time accidents, and that is a fact that we all are proud of.

As a journeyman plumber I always take safety serious. I wear leather gloves and safety glasses the minute I get out of my truck until I am finished for the day.

I should have made myself clear when I said hammer. When I do use the chisel for any of those purposes, I always use a rubber mallet hammer.

I apologize for my miswording. If anyone out there tries my tip, please follow your safety guidelines and use the proper tools. And always think safety first.