The cooler weather has arrived, and local volunteers, including Bassett associates, are taking steps to make sure those in need stay warm this winter.
It’s an event that Bassett Mechanical associates look forward to every year – Heat’s On! Project Heat’s On is a volunteer program to inspect the heating systems of low-income and senior citizens and disabled homeowners, and veterans. In Wisconsin, it takes place in Local 400 (Kaukauna), Local 434 (Eau Claire/LaCrosse/Mosinee), and Local 601 (Madison). Our associates participated in events in the Fox Valley area and Madison this year.
In Kaukauna, Project Heat’s On celebrated its 30th anniversary with more than 50 Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 400 volunteers, along with the assistance of the Mechanical Contractors Association. They inspected the heating systems of the disabled and low-income elderly homeowners in Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago, and Fond du Lac Counties. Local organizations helped identify people and homes in need.
“In addition to inspections, volunteers install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors if none are present and put new batteries in existing detectors. The goal of the project is to provide homeowners with a safe furnace in their home for the upcoming heating season,” said Kirk Rademaker, Business Agent, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 400.
This year, volunteers visited 55 homes – 16 in Brown County, 36 in Outagamie County, and three in Fond du Lac County.
Ryan S., a Field Fitter at Bassett Mechanical, volunteered for the 2nd year in a row. He said, “I enjoyed learning and seeing the service side of HVAC. It’s nice to use the skills I’m learning throughout my apprenticeship while helping people who need an extra hand.”
In Dane County, Heat’s On has served residents since 1987 and has performed maintenance services on over 2,500 furnaces. The program aims to reduce veterans going without heat or facing other life-threatening emergencies associated with home heating systems.
This year’s event, hosted by Madison Area Mechanical & Sheet Metal Contractors Association and Steamfitters Local 601, had record numbers with 67 volunteers, including 30 service trucks. The volunteers serviced 57 homes. Because of the event, they will replace one furnace and provide follow-up service for three other homes.
“I love this event! For the past 16 years, I have been fortunate to be part of Heat’s On, and the gratitude and appreciation we receive from the veterans are heartwarming. We do this event to help keep them safe and warm, but it means much more to them. From the technicians and steamfitters volunteering their time to the contractors and suppliers donating trucks and parts, much care and generosity are shown by just spending time helping others. I am proud to be part of Heat’s On, and I hope it continues for another 34+ years,” said Julie Walsh, Executive Director, MAPC (Madison Area Plumbing Contractors) and MSC (Madison Sheet Metal Contractors).
Bassett had several associates participate this year for their first time.
“This was my first year doing the event. I cleaned and serviced two veteran’s furnaces. I enjoyed talking with the veterans and hearing some of their stories. I wanted to help because my dad is a veteran, and I believe it’s important to serve those who served our country,” said John R., Bassett Mechanical HVAC Technician.
Another service technician, Brandon R., said, “Volunteering itself is very satisfying. It’s nice to take a day and offer kindness and care.”
This small act of kindness by the volunteers leaves a significant impact on the lives of the veterans.
“What a great experience. We had two outstanding professionals inspect and do a minor repair to our furnace. We now have the peace of mind knowing that we will be warm and safe this winter,” said one area veteran.
Veterans signed up for free furnace checks through the Dane County Veteran Services Office and the Veterans Hospital. Are you a veteran or know one who should sign up? Call the Dane County Veterans Services Office at 608-266-4158 or Jay White at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital at 608-256-1901 ext. 11952.