L-146’s Pinault wins Canadian apprentice contest

Local 146’s David Pinault, l., accepts the 2008 Top Canadian Apprentice award from Award of Excellence Winner Ole Florell.

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Event marks 15th year

DAVID PINAULT, 22, a Local 146 graduate apprentice, won the 2008 Canadian Boilermaker Apprenticeship Competition held at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, June 22-26. This year marked the 15th anniversary of the event.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Pinault moved to Edmonton, Alberta, in 1999, where he attended high school. Upon graduation, he completed the government-funded Trades 2000 program, which introduced participants to the construction trades. “I fell in love with the whole aspect of being a Boilermaker,” Pinault said. He became a member of Local 146 (Edmonton) in 2004.

Pinault said he expected the 2008 Apprenticeship Competition to be difficult — and it was. “It was three days of really hard work [following one day of written exams]. But everything in between was so worth it. It’s been an opportunity of a lifetime. I made five friends [the other candidates] in the week I was there. To me, that’s more important than winning the competition. Just competing was such an honor for all of us.”

Also competing were Gary Amos, Local 271 (Montreal, Quebec); Mike Beauchamp, Local 128 (Toronto, Ontario); Christopher Dufault, Local 555 (Winnipeg, Manitoba); Cory Haakonson, Local 359 (Vancouver, British Columbia); and Vincent LeBlond, Local 73 (Halifax, Nova Scotia).

Contestants earn the right to compete at the national contest by meeting selection criteria and receiving the approval of their local union committees. The candidates must demonstrate high achievement in their technical training and on-the-job skills. At some local unions, several candidates participate in a one-day pre-competition held at their local lodge training center or training college.

National Training Coordinator Grant Jacobs said the 2008 competition planners contacted past winners to see how they had fared. “In most cases, they are supervisors or have gone on to become instructors in one of the colleges,” or have become an official in their lodges. “One thing they consistently said is that being involved and winning the competition was the highlight of their careers.”

Ole Florell earns Award of Excellence

THIS YEAR’S AWARD of Excellence went to Ole Florell, who worked nearly 40 years in the construction Boilermaker industry as a member of Local 555 (Winnipeg, Manitoba). Florell began his career in 1956 in Flin Flon, Manitoba. He worked as a rigger, a fitter, and a foreman, rising to upper levels of supervision with B&W and Alstom Canada.

Local 555 BM-ST Dallas Rogers said Florell “was committed to the development of apprentices,” whether working on the tools or in supervision. “You can see the influence Ole had by how many Boilermakers he helped that went on to distinguished levels of the trade — in supervision, upper management, the schools, and the union.”

In accepting the award, Florell, 78, recalled his Boilermaker heritage, noting that his grandfather and four uncles worked in Tacoma, Wash., during WWI building ships. “It’s a good thing they weren’t taking women in those days or I might have been working for my mother,” he quipped.

This is the first year the Award of Excellence has been named for former International Vice Presidents Richard Albright and Alexander MacDonald.

Competition tests skills

THE APPRENTICE COMPETITION tests journeyman tradecraft. The contest begins with a six-hour written exam that includes 350 multiple-choice questions drawn from the apprentice training curriculum, the Boilermaker Constitution, and local lodge bylaws. Curriculum-related content includes such topics as cutting and welding; hand and power tools; construction materials; metallurgy; blueprint reading; layout and fitting; math; rigging; and boilers, heat exchangers, furnaces, and tanks.

During the three days following the written exam, contestants compete in practical projects designed to test the application of their knowledge and skills, with a focus on welding, cutting, tube rolling, and rigging.

This year’s welding and cutting test required the contestants to weld two sets of coupons (small steel plates) — one in the flat position, the other in the vertical uphand position. Candidates were required to cut a 30-degree bevel on one of the coupons in each set. The contestants also were required to cut a lifting lug from steel plate.

In the waterwall exercise, the apprentices cut and removed a bad section of tube, prepared the wall stub ends, and prepared and installed the wall tube replacement pup. A pup is a short piece of tube that is beveled on both ends to fit into the tube that has been cut.

The “mitered pipe installation” test challenged the apprentices to cut one end of a 16-inch-diameter pipe at a 45-degree angle and fit it into an elliptical hole cut in steel plate.

“This was a very good project for layout, especially with the size of the pipe,” said judge Marcel Losier of Local 73, an instructor at the New Brunswick Community College. “The pipe weighed maybe 100 pounds. The hardest part was making the ellipse.”

The rigging exercise also proved to be a challenge. The assignment required rotating a vessel 180 degrees, moving it laterally through an opening in structural steel, lifting it vertically through one end of the structure, then returning the vessel to its original position. Contestants acted as the lead rigger. They gave directions to their “crew” (trainers from Red River College), planned and set up the lift with the crane operator, inspected the condition of all rigging tools and equipment, set up a safe work perimeter, and calculated lift loads and sling angles.

In all four practical tests, judges graded for safety performance as well as completion of the project specifications.

This year’s test coordinators were Jim Beauchamp, head instructor, Red River College, and Bill Healy, L-203 (St. John, Newfoundland) business rep. Assistant test coordinator was j’Amey Holryod, L-146 training coordinator.

Judges from the technical colleges included Marcel Losier, New Brunswick Community College; Ken Bachand, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology; Ed Hoffman, Humber College; and Guy Leveque of L-271, an instructor with the CFMA School of Information for the Metal Trades, Quebec.

Union judges included Mike Bayens, L-146 dispatcher; Darrell Bray, Local 128 business rep; Barry Pyne, L-359 business rep; and David Ralph, L-146 training coordinator.

Employer judges included Greg Blender, superintendent for Horton CBI; Kim Jones, superintendent for B&W; Rocky Matchett, supervisor for Sunny Corner Enterprises; and Chuck Strand, site superintendent for Alstom Canada.