In 2023, Local 19 worked with the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) and pro-union politicians in New Jersey to help pass fire life safety legislation — helping keep citizens safe and creating more work for SMART members in the Garden State.

The process began in January, when then Assistant Business Manager Bryan Bush, Assistant Business Manager Luke Gordon and Political Director Todd Farally approached Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli and Senator Nilsa Cruz- Perez about running a bill that would ensure the state of New Jersey would follow the National Fire Protection Association Code (NFPA), along with the International Fire Code (IFC). Both mandate inspections of fire, smoke, combination fire/smoke dampers and smoke control systems, which include but are not limited to smoke evacuation systems and stairwell pressurization. In addition, any deficient dampers or smoke control systems would need to be repaired in a timely manner after inspection.

Early on, Local 19’s team consulted with Jeremy Zeedyk, the Northeast representative for NEMI. Zeedyk helped to get the ball rolling on crafting the legislation and ensuring that all the technical information, including the necessary certifications, were specified within the language of the bill. After several rough drafts, Local 19 had solid language and talking points to bring to Trenton.

Fire life safety is just one example of the job-creating lawmaking opportunities available to local unions. NEMI encourages all locals to reach out for assistance identifying and drafting legislation.

“By early March, companion bills were introduced in the Assembly and the state Senate, and both bills passed unanimously out of two committees in each chamber over the next couple months,” said Farally. “The Assembly fully passed their version in May, and the Senate moved to pass the legislation in mid- June. Oftentimes we see votes in government fall along stark political lines, but these bills left both the Assembly and Senate unanimously and were headed to Governor Murphy’s desk.”

That’s when the process hit a momentary hitch. After the bills had passed both chambers in Trenton, sponsors of the legislation began to receive questions and calls for concern from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Fire Service, which falls within the DCA. Assemblyman Verrelli’s office reached out to Local 19, laying out the concerns and where they were coming from.

“At this point, we reengaged Jeremy Zeedyk to look over the concerns the Fire Service had and then proceeded to set up a meeting between Local 19, the DCA, the Fire Service, NEMI and Assemblyman Verrelli,” explained Farally. “We were able to hear and address many of their concerns, and Local 19 shared our concerns with some of the proposed changes from the DCA.”

After a few months of drafting and redrafting language, in mid- November all parties agreed to some changes within the bill that give the state some flexibility while still upholding important standards which must be enforced. At this point, the bill was labeled as conditionally vetoed, which meant the governor’s office had changed some elements of the bill and it would be sent back to both legislative chambers for a vote to concur with those amendments.

In early December of 2023, the New Jersey Senate and Assembly both unanimously concurred with the changes, and fire life safety is now the law statewide — showing how important it is for SMART to be involved in the political process, and the vital role pro-union legislators play.

“There are still some steps to go through at this point under the regulatory process before everything is implemented, but rest assured — Local 19 will be there every step of the way to ensure the regulations are applied correctly and fairly to all,” Farally concluded.

Fire life safety is just one example of the job-creating lawmaking opportunities available to local unions. NEMI encourages all locals to reach out for assistance identifying and drafting legislation.

NEMIC is saying “see you later” to two longtime sheet metal stalwarts who recently retired after decades of valu­able service. Their hard work and the countless contributions they have made as leaders have kept our industry at the forefront of the skilled construction trades.

John Hamilton, director of imple­mentation for the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB), began his career as a sheet metal apprentice in 1982. Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, John has been a member of Local 10 in Maplewood, Minnesota, his entire career.

John attended Saint Paul Technical College and graduated with an associate degree in sheet metal and HVAC, which jump-started his apprenticeship. After his apprentice­ship, John spent five years as a field foreman and manager of testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) jobs at Harris Mechanical in Saint Paul. He advanced by joining the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) as a field representative and then the International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal industry, as a regional coordinator. During that time, he founded the train-the-trainer program for TAB instructors and developed the current ITI/ NEMIC air duct calculator.

As a regional coordinator, John served as the technical expert for many of the current ITI training modules, including fire life safety, sound and vibration, piping systems, ventilation/indoor air quality, pumps, fans, psychometrics, the TAB manual and the TABB home study course for test and balance.

In 1995, he was hired as the chief operating officer (later, director of implementation) of TABB. There, he helped craft the current International Certification Board (ICB)/TABB certification program; lobbied for fire life safety legisla­tion in cities, counties and states nationwide; worked to get TABB-specific language into thousands of construction specifications; and was instrumental in the accredi­tation of ICB/TABB to ISO/IEC 17024 by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) National Accreditation Board (ANAB).

Scott Hammond, NEMIC’s director of research, is a lifelong resident of Circleville, Ohio. Scott joined SMART Local 24 in Columbus as an apprentice in 1986. As a young journeyperson working with Speer Mechanical, he was appointed to a committee to investigate the establishment of a defined contribu­tion pension plan in the Columbus district. In 1999, he became an organizer with Local 24, where he reached out to potential members and oversaw the youth-to-youth program. He took on additional responsibilities when he was elected business representative in 2008.

In 2011, he became business manager for Local 24. In this role, Scott, his team and fellow leaders of other Ohio locals worked to get ordinances passed in cities and counties around the state to require damper inspections and repairs by ICB-certified technicians.

As the director of research for NEMIC, he used his extensive knowledge of fire damper legislation to help members across the country educate their local politicians, fire and building inspectors and building owners about the impor­tance of HVAC fire life safety.

Scott also served as a trustee on several Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and Taft-Hartley funds, and he has represented sheet metal workers on multiple funds, boards and committees, including Mayor Andrew Ginther’s Labor Advisory Committee, established by the city of Columbus, and the Ohio State Building Trades Council Executive Board.