Oil Heat Cares and the members of the National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers chapters have been busy helping their less fortunate neighbors with their heating and hot water problems since the program got its start three years ago.
Many of these charitable projects result from routine customer calls, when techs discover a system that’s just too old to keep working or, in some cases, a dead boiler replaced by meager space heaters.
After coming upon such situations, NAOHSM members pitch in, document the need, secure the required equipment by working with Judy Garber, the association’s executive administrator, and, finally, complete the hard work of updating the systems for free on a Saturday - after the regular work week is done.
Oil Heat Cares projects are designed to help our neighbors in need, but sometimes more is gained than simply providing heat. This month, PM highlights a few of the projects completed in the past year that have made a difference not only for the families and homes repaired, but for the volunteers, too.
LEHIGH VALLEY CHAPTERThis recent Lehigh Valley Chapter project was spearheaded by Richard Donald of Frame Oil Co., a third-generation oil company founded by John Baran in the 1920s, and now owned and operated by Richard and Roman M. Baran.
Frame Oil had been involved with the local career center, which is part of the Hazleton Area School District, for several years.
The school district, along with the Anthracite Region Center for Independent Living, and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, established Vocational and Independent Training for Adult Life (VITAL), a program that would teach life skills to mentally challenged adults.
However, VITAL needed a building to implement the program. To that end, the school district purchased a home in Hazleton, but soon discovered the home’s boiler was in poor condition.
The HVAC instructor for the school district, Jeff Sweda, who was aware of the OHC program and takes advantage of the many opportunities that NAOHSM and the oil heat industry offer, saw the project as an opportunity to teach his students a few life lessons, as well as how to do an oil heat installation. He and Donald decided to request assistance from Oil Heat Cares to fund the project.
The installation project was approved by the school and then presented to OHC, where it received almost immediate approval. Frame Oil then pulled the project together with the help of Viessmann Boiler Co., through AVCO Supply. Frame Oil also supplied all the extras for the project, i.e., nuts, bolts, piping, fittings, etc.
“The project took two months to complete,” Donald says. Nine students from the career center did all the work for two hours in the afternoon each day.
“Every day was a learning day,” he recalls. “They learned about blocked drains, about how to check to see if oil is leaking from a fitting, and that copper pipe cannot be cut short.”
The project also provided future HVAC students at the center with the opportunity for hands-on training, Donald notes. “Not only has the project provided a valuable lesson for the current students, it will also be a laboratory for future classes, as they will have a boiler to work on in a real-time setting.”
GARDEN STATE CHAPTERLast year, an emergency situation was brought to the attention of Dorsey Finn of Mitchell Supreme Fuel Co. and the members of the Garden State Chapter of NAOHSM in Connecticut.
A family with 11 kids, one of whom was sick with leukemia, was living in Union County, Conn., and keeping their home warm by using electric space heaters after the local utility had shut off their gas supply two years earlier.
“There was a newspaper article on patients with leukemia, and how this family had no heat for two years,” Finn recalls. “When we got there, they were living in two rooms with electric heaters and cooking on a barbecue grill in their kitchen. With the leukemia, the medical bills were just outrageous for them, and they just couldn’t afford to pay their gas bill, so the gas company shut them off.”
The OHC Committee quickly agreed that this family needed a new oil heating system, and was happy to approve the project.
So after doing most of the legwork on the project and getting donations for the needed equipment, the team of Garden State Chapter members, including Paul Cuprewich of Wooley Fuel; Dorsey Finn and Rich Michael of Mitchell Supreme Fuel Co.; and a crew from Petro that included Ken Paterson, president of the chapter; Bruce Bridge; Ed Lysick; Jim Winkler; and Andy Gamatko, gathered at the home at 3 p.m. to start the project.
By 7:30 p.m. the Union County family was able to turn up the thermostat and begin to feel the warmth of their new oil-fired boiler.
“The main challenge was just making sure there were no pipes that were burst once the boiler was in and we got it running,” Finn says. “Honestly, the challenge was finding something to do for everybody, since there were so many people there to help out.”
The new system included twin Roth oil tanks, a Weil-McLain steam boiler, and many fittings and supplies that were donated by Weil-McLain and Ridgewood Supply Co. The only thing OHC had to provide was the cost of the permit.
The project was also aided by the generosity of the manufacturers, wholesalers and the local oil companies, including Wooley Fuel, Petro and Mitchell Supreme Fuel Co., which donated the first load of fuel oil to the family. Finn’s local church donated the money to pay off the family’s two-year-old gas bill.
And knowing how much a typical job costs OHC, the directors decided to help out, too, by providing some money for oil and a gift certificate for the family.
“I think the thing everybody appreciated most was that once the heat started going through the house, the kids started coming down and we were taking pictures,” Finn says. “In the first picture, there were three to four kids, and then the second group came down and there were seven or eight kids. Finally, in the last picture, there were 10 kids with the mother, and they were just tickled pink to have heat again for the first time in two years.”
(This project secured the Garden State Chapter as the winner of the 2006 Annual Oil Heat Cares Cup. The 2007 Oil Heat Cares Cup will be awarded during the 54th annual NAOHSM convention and trade show May 20-24 in Hershey, Pa.)
FAIRFIELD COUNTY CHAPTERWith some of the coldest weather to date, the Fairfield County Chapter came to the rescue of Jane and Francesca. The ladies needed to replace their worn-out boiler, but due to multiple illnesses, they just didn’t have the funds to replace the heater.
Al Breda of Sippin Energy, a fuel oil storage and delivery business that also offers service, design and installation of oil heating, air-conditioning, and oil hot water equipment, spearheaded the project.
“My supervisor, Gary Sippin, found out about Jane and Francesca’s needs through one of his family members,” Breda says. “Francesca suffers from medical conditions including cerebral palsy, while Jane has less serious medical conditions. Jane is also a single mom and works a full-time job. The medical bills and normal expenses kept them from getting the equipment that they needed.”
The heating equipment had already been pronounced DOA due to a variety of water leaks. The women still used the boiler sparingly, afraid to turn up the heat, not knowing if it was straining the equipment.
“When I inspected the equipment, I found a failed relief valve, expansion tank and reducing valve,” Breda recalls. “The boiler was also leaking between the sections and was dangerous because it was leaking and running without a low water cutoff. The tankless coil also never delivered enough hot water, and the fuel oil tank had been patched with fiberglass some years ago and was starting to leak at the patch.”
Breda took the case to the Fairfield County Chapter at its Dec. 5 meeting, saying he planned to do the installation the very next day. He requested help at the meeting, and in return, he got just the right number of volunteers to complete the job.
Breda and his lead installer, Jon Kazmercyk, had started disconnecting the existing boiler, when Fairfield County members Bill Delaney, W. Delaney Heating & Cooling; Angelo Formato, Angelo’s Burner Service; and Pat Scarpone showed up and started working.
In one day, the existing boiler was removed and the new Weil-McLain WGO3 oil boiler with a Carlin EZ1 burner and Gold Plus 36-gallon indirect water heater were installed. Also, the piping was changed to accommodate a Spirovent air eliminator and the circulators were re-mounted on the supply.
The other components the team replaced and/or installed included: an Amtrol 30 expansion tank, Taco circulator shut-off flanges, Watts model 911 backflow and reducing valve combination, Hydrolevel 1150 low water cutoff, Watts 100XL-8 relief valve for the indirect water heater, Taco 007 internal flow check circulator, Suntec PRV oil safety valve, Taco SR501 relay, and a Firomatic oil supply fire valve.
New England Heating Supply, through Ed Konopka of the Bridgeport, Conn., branch, delivered all the equipment and parts, and helped the crew move the boilers in and out. The project plans also included an oil tank replacement that will be done when the oil supply runs low in the existing tank. A Field CAS2-C combustion air kit will also be installed at that time.
The challenges on this project, Breda notes, included an extremely small staircase and landing in the basement.
“The burner and controls had to be removed from the new boiler to move it downstairs,” he says. “And there is an existing 275-gallon oil storage tank there now, which will have to be cut in pieces to be removed. The replacements will have to be two 138-gallon oil tanks piped together.”
And yet, Breda says, to get the crew to come out on a Saturday in December, when everyone in the business was backed-up with scheduled work, was truly a tribute to the dedication of the NAOHSM chapter members and to the importance of the OHC program.
EASTERN CONNECTICUT CHAPTERSometimes it’s a neighbor, a church member or simply a customer that needs a helping hand. That was the case with one of Bill Nye’s customers at Scotland Heating & A/C.
Nye had known the family for 20 years. The head of the house was a single mom, working to support her family. Their heating system was 37 years old, and they sorely needed a new boiler but didn’t have the financial ability to replace it.
Nye took the project to the Eastern Connecticut Chapter of NAOHSM, and it agreed it was a perfect candidate for OHC. Nye then had to work out the donation of the equipment.
“The terrible part of the job was that it took a very long time to get the project organized and completed,” he says. “We had trouble coordinating the materials with the supply house, and it took more time than normal to work out the details.”
Finally Nye was supplied with a Pensotti Blue Line Series boiler from PNA Inc. in Bangor, Maine; a 35-gallon Vaughan Top Performer Plus indirect water heater from Vaughan Corp., Salisbury, Mass.; and three Armstrong Astro 30 circulator pumps from Armstrong Pumps, North Tonawanda, N.Y., all arranged for donation by Rich Leighton of the NE HVAC Division of David Gooding Inc., a manufacturers rep in Madison, Conn., and the project was back under way.
Nye put together a team of local contractors to do the work, including Jay Holland, Mohegan Oil; John Harland, Home Heating Service; and Scott Kneeland, Scotland Heating & A/C.
“With the four of us contractors, it probably took about eight hours,” Nye says.
The installation was not without complication.
“There was no oil, and when we put the boiler in, the woman had to go to the gas station and buy 10 gallons of diesel fuel just so we could start it,” Nye recalls. “I called a nearby oil company, Reliable Oil, told them about the woman’s plight, and they donated 150 gallons of oil.”
SOUTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA CHAPTERIlene Giberson, Pequea, Pa., had a serious problem with her boiler. Judging from the accompanying pictures, Giberson had another serious problem with her “boiler room.”
Then in January 2006, Carl Mellinger, B.G. Mellinger & Son, was able to solve both problems thanks to the OHC program.
“We’ve been servicing Ms. Giberson’s home and the boiler had been in bad condition for some time, in part because of a bad roof over the ‘boiler room,’” Mellinger says. The boiler room is a shed-style room attached to the outside of the old stone house.
In December 2005, during the coldest days of a new winter, Giberson ran out of oil and the boiler froze, and she had to heat her home with electric heaters.
Carl is the fifth-generation Mellinger to head a company that began in 1880 selling coal and lumber. Oil was added in 1951, and eventually became the primary focus. Mellinger currently employs five people, delivering oil and kerosene, plus installing residential heating systems.
Mellinger quickly replaced the boiler with a Burnham V83, donated by the manufacturer, along with a Taco flow valve, air separator and circulator, a McDonnell & Miller Guard Dog low water cut-off, and a Steel Fab triple-wall chimney, all donated through distributors.
Thanks to the Burnham donation, OHC funds were used to build a new roof for the boiler room, which also houses the fuel tank. “It isn’t often that we need to negotiate for a new roof,” Judy Garber says. “But with the help of Carl, he found a good neighbor that was willing to do it at cost.”
OHC - Recruiting Students To The TradeThere’s no doubt, after talking with the contractors involved
in various Oil Heat Cares projects, that this is tough work. What might be just
as tough, however, is the work of attracting new people to the oil-heat
by Steve Smith
“All of us representing skilled trades are vying for the same high school student,” says Judy Garber, executive administrator of the National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers. “So we all have to continually find ways to attract them.”
NAOHSM has come up with a variety of ways to promote the industry for new recruits:
CD: An eight-minute “Introduction to Oilheat” CD presentation for PCs designed to encourage junior high and high school vocational students to consider a career as an oil-heat technician. The multimedia CD describes the benefits of oil heating and emphasizes training and employment opportunities. It includes voice narration of actual essays of students who have received NAOHSM scholarships (more on that below) and are attending technical colleges.
The CD also allows viewers to link to NAOHSM’s Web site (www.naohsm.org), where they can inquire about the location of oil-heat training in their region, and make contact with a local service manager via the group’s message board. The CD also includes marketing materials and a brochure that further discusses careers, salaries, and training.
Garber says the CD can serve as an educational tool for school career days and guidance offices, or as an entry-level presentation for new employees at oil-heat companies.
The CD has been distributed to NAOHSM members and to more than 9,000 retail oil-heat companies that participate in the National Oilheat Research Alliance. Also, NORA’s Education and Training Committee promotes its use.
Scholarships: NAOHSM awards seven Dave Nelsen Scholarships each worth $2,000 at its annual convention.
“Each year, more students apply for the scholarships,” Garber says. “The one in 2005 was a first: We had two women apply and both won. One young lady graduated and is employed by a wholesaler and the other is still in school.”
The scholarship program is named in honor of Dave Nelsen, Kurz Oil Co., Port Washington, N.Y., who died in 1998. At the time of his death, Nelsen was NAOHSM’s education chairman and was working on a number of educational projects.
To be considered, a candidate is required to write a 500-word essay entitled, “What are your goals and why do you wish to better yourself within the oil-heating industry?” A panel of independent judges reviews the applications and the winners, along with their families, are invited to attend convention’s awards banquet.
Certification: NAOHSM takes an active role in educational programs developed and funded through NORA. While much of this training is geared for the professional tradesmen, NAOHSM’s 30 chapters are all charged with nurturing vo-tech schools within their regions.
Through NORA’s certification process, for example, NAOHSM was instrumental in developing a “bronze” level certificate just for the vo-tech student.
“Today’s young people want to graduate with a degree,” Garber says. “The bronze certificate is something concrete that they go show an employer as proof that they’ve gained a certain level of expertise already.”
Convention Activities: NAOHSM has even come up with a couple of events to make students a part of its annual Convention & Trade Show. Two years ago, the association introduced students to the industry by holding a panel discussion comprised of a wholesaler, small-business owner, manufacturer, technicians, vo-tech instructors and a couple of service managers.
Together, panelists gave students an idea of what typical workday is like.
“Our goal was to demonstrate to students that the oil-heating industry was not a dead-end job,” Garber explains. “We wanted them to know that once they chose our industry, they could move into various jobs. I don’t know who enjoyed this panel more, the students or the panelists.”
Another similar panel will be presented at this year’s annual convention.
Students can also participate in a special burner competition also held during the show. Students compete against one another for the chance to win a tool chest valued at $2,000.
OHC - Fund-raising Activities For 2007In its short but
successful existence, Oil Heat Cares has yet to turn down one job that has
helped a family in need. What keeps this well-“oiled” machine running? One
word: generosity. And for OHC, the
donations of time, equipment and funds always seem to be there at the right
by Kelly Johnson & Katie Rotella
The checks roll in, and so do equipment donations and corporate sponsors for various events. This year especially, OHC has some pretty aggressive fund-raising events planned, which already have exceeded the organization’s goals for involvement and financial expectations.
One such successful event took place April 5, when Taco Inc. and the Oil Heat Cares Committee sponsored an event at Gillette Stadium, home to three-time Superbowl champions the New England Patriots.
In addition to learning the ins and outs of radiant heating from Taco’s new educational director, John Barba, attendees toured the stadium in Foxborough, Mass., including the players’ locker room and the mechanical room. The event raised more than $15,000 for the Oil Heat Cares program.
PM columnist Dan Holohan gave a presentation on new products and technology he saw this year at ISH in Frankfurt, Germany.
Throughout the day, door prizes were raffled off to support OHC. Lunch, dinner and drinks also were provided.
Participants in the event could choose either a 31- or 14-mile bike ride, or a three-mile walk along the Connecticut River Walk. They were required to pledge a minimum of $100, but also raised money by getting friends and family to pitch in.
The event was so successful that a second “Care to Ride” event is planned for May 21 in Hershey, Pa., in conjunction with NAOHSM’s 54th Annual Convention. The expanded fundraiser again will feature two bike routes and a walking route, plus a newly added motorcycle route.
The fund-raising doesn’t end with large events. Local chapters pitch in with grassroots fund-raising events, too. “Many oil heat companies have done Oil Heat Cares-type projects on their own - they just didn’t advertise the fact,” NAOHSM executive administrator Judy Garber says.
The tax status, community awareness and the success of Oil Heat Cares has brought out the stewardship in many businesses that may have been hidden before. “Our members are quite civic- minded and charitable. It is just natural for them to get involved with the Oil Heat Cares Foundation.”
For more information on the 2007 “Care To Ride” event, contact Judy Garber at 688/552-0900.