Bringing More Plumbing Knowledge to Others

Teaching new standards to plumbers in areas where plumbing is substandard is a step in the right direction

Day in and day out we go about our lives as plumbers doing what we do best — plumbing. Whether it’s new construction, remodels or service work, we simply go to work and get it done.

Not only do we get it done, but we correctly install the plumbing following a standard procedure or, basically, we install it according to our local plumbing codes and regulations.

TEACHING ASSIGNMENT

As many of you know, I have had some incredible opportunities to travel to various places around the world where there is a lack of plumbing. With my team, we have been able to change lives by simply improving the conditions we encountered by installing safe water and sanitation systems.

Via the Community Plumbing Challenge (www.commplumbing.org), I have relearned the importance of plumbing. My passion for this trade has doubled, and I simply cannot express enough to all of you how important the work you do every day is.

This was never more evident than recently when I traveled to Indonesia for a teaching assignment. From March 10-16, I taught a Train the Trainer plumbing course to 14 instructors from various islands of Indonesia. The course was held in Bekasi, Jawa Barat, at the PT International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials headquarters. The IAPMO hired me to instruct these trainers from various technical colleges and universities on the intricacies of teaching the country’s newly adopted standard SNI 8153:2015, Plumbing Systems for Buildings.

THE COURSE

The course was laid out in such a way that four levels of certification could be achieved, beginning with the most basic understanding of the plumbing standard to an advanced level of design and plan submittal.

The goal was to teach the student/instructors the standard, certify them as trainers and then send them back to their schools where they would begin training their students in the use of the standard and eventually becoming certified plumbers.

The class and I worked six- to 10-hour days learning the standard and applying it to various types of designs. We covered the entire gamut of plumbing in 60 hours. Everything from water sizing, drain and vent, backflow, storm and layout was covered. It was an intense week of training.

The instructors who attended the class were an incredible group. They showed a dedication to not only learning the plumbing standard, but a desire to learn how to become better teachers for their students as well. While the common language of the country is Bahasa, these students/teachers impressed me by being able to communicate (both spoken and written) with me in English. That skill alone was very impressive and very much appreciated by yours truly who cannot speak 1 ounce of Bahasa.

A LITTLE REFLECTION

Prior to flying to Indonesia, I spent several months learning the SNI 8153:2015 standard. With the assistance of the IAPMO training department and members of the training and education committee, we put together several PowerPoint presentations, worksheets and training aids that assisted me with the presentation.

Now, I must remind you: I’m a plumber from Wisconsin where we have our own state-written plumbing code. SNI 8153:2015 was developed using requirements based on the Uniform Plumbing Code. I not only had to put the presentation together in a way that would be easier for the students to learn, I had to teach myself a new plumbing code. Then to top it off, I had to learn how to convert imperial measures to metric, which of course is the system used by almost every other country in the world except the U.S. Thank goodness for the converter app on my phone.

It was also during this time that I began to think about how the pioneers of our plumbing industry must have felt as they developed training materials for what has now become our modern-day plumbing apprenticeship training. Here I was in 2019 putting together presentations for a country that currently doesn’t have a formal training program focusing specifically on plumbing. The importance of this training is something that each and every one of you can relate to.

How has plumbing been installed for all these years in Indonesia without this type of training? The answer is that for the larger metropolitan areas of the country, it has been engineered and then laborers have installed it. For other areas outside of the cities, though, it was plain to see that plumbing was somewhat of an afterthought.

Lack of safe water and sanitation was front and center on several of the areas I visited while I was there. To simply say, “Don’t drink the water” to this plumber is something I find unacceptable. We don’t wear our “Plumbers Protect the Health of the Nation” badge only when we are here at home. It’s a part of us we take everywhere we go. I had the incredible opportunity to go back in time to hopefully change the future of plumbing in another country.

Keep doing what you do; we can’t afford to go backward.



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