As temperatures drop during cold and flu season, and Covid infections continue to pose public health challenges, it’s more important than ever to have proper ventilation in schools, offices and other buildings – and SMART sheet metal members are the highly skilled workers with the qualifications and expertise to perform that work. In Washington state, Local 66 members like fourth-year TAB apprentice Kelsy Sturzen are hard at work ensuring the quality of the air breathed by local students.
“I am one of the people that goes through and makes sure that all of the air coming out of the equipment matches what the engineers have designed for that space,” Sturzen said in a recent interview with SMART News. “We make sure that the equipment is working properly, controlling properly, so that we have the proper air changes per hour.”
Sturzen, who works at signatory contractor Holaday-Parks, Inc., spent the eight years prior to her apprenticeship working as the childcare director at the Boys & Girls Club of King County, Washington – a job she entered immediately after graduating from Central Washington College. Eventually, though, she needed a change, and her husband suggested the apprenticeship program at Local 66. Since then, Sturzen has loved life as a tradesperson.
“What I like about the work is that on any given day it can change,” she explained. “There’s always a surprise, there’s always a new problem to overcome. Some days it’s physical, some days it’s not – it’s never the same day.”
Sturzen, the first female technician Holaday-Parks has hired, is currently working on a tenant improvement project at a local elementary school. Indoor air quality has always been vitally important for the health and wellbeing of Americans, especially children, but that area of work has risen in profile since the onset of the pandemic. Now that Americans are fully returning to schools, offices and other public gathering areas, it’s vital that air is circulated in those spaces.
“I would tell a parent whose child was going to an elementary school that I was working on that the importance of the quality of their air realistically goes along with the quality of the education that they want their child to have,” Sturzen told SMART News. “[Poor] quality of air impedes your ability to think clearly, just like [not] getting enough sleep or [not] getting the proper nutrition. Breathing quality air and knowing that you’re in an environment where you can breathe easily and safely is an important fact to know.”
“It gives me a sense of fulfillment knowing that people are breathing a little bit easier because of the job that we’re doing,” she added. “[We’re] making sure that they come into a space where they know that they’re being taken care of.”