Opinion— Licensed plumbers keep Boston safe and healthy

As our city and our region continue to undergo an unprecedented building boom, it is a good time to consider how vital top-quality plumbing – done by licensed professionals - is to our public health and safety.

Massachusetts has one of the top drinking water ratings in the nation and that is no accident. It is because of our strong plumbing codes, renowned union apprenticeship programs, and a commitment to training and upholding standards set by generations of expert plumbers who built our city.

It seems that every day ground is broken on an exciting, transformative development – from the 10,000-unit new community underway at Suffolk Downs, to the massive redevelopment at South Station, to the recently approved 21-building, $5 billion Dorchester Bay City at the former Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester. All these projects require expertise from well-trained union plumbers who will adhere to the codes that ensure the water flowing through these buildings is pure, the outflow systems are sanitary, and the heating and cooling systems are professionally installed, tested, and maintained for safety.

Properly installed and carefully designed water drainage systems are essential to public health. The first thing an insurance company will do in the event of an accident, a leak, a bacterial outbreak, or other public health or safety crisis will be to check to see if the system was installed by a licensed plumber. If the answer to that question is no, then developers, contractors, building owners and others can be held liable.

Licensed, union plumbers are constantly refreshing their training to ensure their craftsmanship meets the current standards under state law. Codes are constantly changing, and new heating and cooling technologies are evolving daily. It takes committed professionals to stay up to date on these technologies and make sure nothing is left to chance.

There have been efforts to relax the plumbing code in Massachusetts, but, thankfully, our legislators have stood strong to protect the code that keeps our drinking water clean and our communities safe and sanitary.

The motto of Boston’s Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 12, which has proudly represented licensed professional plumbers since 1889, is, simply, “health starts with plumbing.” The national United Association, of which Local 12 is a member, represents more than 375,000 plumbing industry professionals in 300 locals across the US and Canada, making it one of the largest and longest-standing labor unions in the country.

Our members and signatory contractors live by this simple message every day: Health starts with plumbing. It is a message that is more important than ever to consider as our city grows. We sometimes take clean drinking water and sanitary plumbing for granted, but in many nations, and even other states, it is not a given.

Protecting public health must remain priority number one as we continue to revitalize and reimagine our city and our state. These historic investments transforming our communities are too important to leave to chance.

Tim Fandel is Business Manager of Plumbers & Gasfitters Local 12. Andrew DeAngelo is executive director of the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association.

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