Proud to Be in the ECA
I had the honor of serving on a speaking panel Wednesday evening in front of 175 victims of the fire that are in the “Sonoma County Medical Association (SMCA)”. Once again, I was moved by the victims and their stories of escape, loss, resilience and frustration. I think it is appropriate that I share with you the points of view and message that I continue to deliver in public on behalf of the ECA and its membership.
The ECA has members participating in both the government assisted public debris cleanup, and the “opt out” private business and homeowner debris cleanup. In both cases, the ECA highly recommends that all workers treat the debris as if it were hazardous regardless of what the OSHA rules allow. Because of the uncertainty of what was burned, and the “hit and miss” nature of how the debris piles are tested for hazardous materials, and that digging around in the debris pile can expose materials not picked up by the initial survey for hazardous materials, the ECA recommends fitted respirators and appropriate personal protective equipment be worn at all times in the affected areas by workers. Gloves, Tyvek suits, boots with plates and steel toes are all recommended to be worn by workers.
The ECA encourages property owners and the Contractors for the Army Corps of Engineers to engage “local hire” for the debris cleanup. Although we all acknowledge this cleanup was bigger than we could all handle with our local crews, the local workers should be turned to first before out of town and out of area workers are utilized. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that the ECA feels property owners will receive more understanding and compassion and probably a better value by employing folks that live here as well as work here. We need to be conscious of what a great reputation we have developed over the past 10-15 years, and we should do nothing to jeopardize that reputation. Our members are generous, and although there is nothing wrong with making a profit, we are not known as “greedy contractors trying to cash in on the unfortunate victims”.
Encouraging proper licensing is also part of my message. I encourage property owners to contact the ECA for “vetted” and licensed contractors who can test and or perform the work needed for debris removal. We also will actively send notifications in to California State License Board when I come across unlicensed subcontractors. Remember-even on a Federal Contract, if you are doing contracting work in California, you need to be licensed in California. The only exception to that rule is if you are working on Federal land and none of the debris cleanup or rebuilding is on Federal land. So homeowners need be aware that hiring an out of state licensed contractor is not legal.
My last part of each “elevator speech” I give, is that the ECA is available to any property owner to utilize us as a resource all the way through the debris cleanup and rebuild process. If an owner calls and has a question as to how to find a good contractor to rebuild their home, we try to guide them to our members or the NCBE members that have vetted and properly licensed folks that can help them. Whether it is for soils testing, haz mat testing, structural concrete testing, or something else, we stand ready to assist for no charge any fire victim as best we are able. It is the least we can do!
That’s All Folks!