Iron Workers Get Educated on FRP Last month in St. Louis, architects, engineers, and students of the iron industry assembled in the city for its first FRP symposium on August 25. The event was put on by Iron Workers Local #396 and the Erectors and Riggers Association, and was funded and sponsored by the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT).

Approximately 35 people attended the symposium at the St. Louis Construction Training School, including representatives from Covidien, Midwest Diversified Technologies Inc., and Helitech. The day-long event included material installation demonstrations as well as presentations from Ed Balaban, manager of fabrication and sales at Strongwell; Charles Perkins, past president of the Erectors and Riggers Association; and Kenneth Waugh, president of industry liaison for IMPACT.

Iron workers use FRP materials in applications involving corrosive atmospheres, including bridge decks, safety rails, and siding around radar tires and domes. Waugh couldn’t provide a specific estimate as to how much composites have permeated the marketplace, but he said adoption of FRP is clearly increasing.

FRP’s wider presence served as the impetus for putting on the symposium. “Our main concern is if there is a steel bridge or building made of structural steel and we choose to replace it with FRP, we want to make sure that our people are trained to install it properly and not to be scared of it,” says Waugh. “We wanted them to know about resins, glues, two-part epoxies, etc. The more people are educated, the easier it’ll be to implement and to achieve more usage.”

Local #396 is already taking steps to thoroughly educate its members. “They now have FRP composite training in our structural manuals as part of the core curriculum. It was added within the last year,” said Waugh. In addition, the group has also added an FRP curriculum to its apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship combines textual information and on-the-job practice. “They actually have a training tower made of FRP,” said Waugh. “The columns, code beams, stairs, stringers, hand rails, grating and flooring are all made of the material. It allows them to do a lot more hands on training.”