Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Steam- and pipefitters lay out, assemble, fabricate, maintain, troubleshoot and repair piping systems carrying water, steam, chemicals and fuel in heating, cooling, lubricating and other process piping systems.
Working with Others
Steam- and pipefitters work with others most of the time. They liaise with other steam- and pipefitters to ensure that fittings and hangers are available and are put up. They work mainly with welders to assemble fittings prior to welding, but may also work with pipe insulators and electricians. They coordinate the arrival times of crane operators when necessary. They work closely with apprentices to obtain assistance and to offer both technical training and safety information. Coordination of work with others is a key part of the occupation.
Continuous learning is essential for steam- and pipefitters as they must keep up-to-date with regulatory requirements and codes that are periodically revised. Also, they must stay current on technological advances in their field to select the most appropriate equipment and materials and be able to perform proper installations.
All essential skills are affected by the introduction of technology in the workplace. Steam- and pipefitters' ability to adapt to new technologies is strongly related to their skill levels across the essential skills, including reading, writing, thinking and communication skills. Technologies are transforming the ways in which workers obtain, process and communicate information, and the types of skills needed to perform in their jobs. For example, the use of technology, such as project management and computer-assisted design (CAD) software, is increasing in these occupations. In addition, self-employed workers may also require a broad range of computer skills to operate software applications that help them bill and communicate with customers, track costs and revenues and produce financial summaries.
Technology in the workplace further affects the complexity of tasks related to the essential skills required for this occupation. Not only do workers need the skills to use increasingly complex and specialized software applications, but sophisticated piping installations have also increased the complexity of schematics and other diagrams. In contrast, electronic databases, CD-ROMs and keyword search functions make it easier to find information, such as diagrams and specifications. Workers can calculate costs, material requirements, conversions, electrical resistances, volumes, rates and offsets using Web-based applications, specialized software and hand-held devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs).
Sprinkler System Installers fabricate, install, test, maintain and repair water, foam, carbon dioxide and dry chemical sprinkler systems in buildings for fire protection purposes. Sprinkler System Installers are employed by sprinkler system contractors, or they may be self-employed.
- May deal with problems regarding insufficient or incorrect types of piping, valves, couplings or sprinkler heads shipped to site. They must determine what is required, make arrangements to have the correct materials provided, and then reorganize job tasks to minimize lost time. (2)
- May deal with competition from other trades for working space, scaffolding or access to certain areas of the building. They have to plan carefully and communicate their requirements effectively and with tact. (2)
- May face difficult problems with disassembly and reassembly of heavy equipment. They must plan in advance and use hoisting aids and clamps to maintain the desired position of the equipment. (2)
- May deal with unexpected physical obstructions or interference from other mechanical systems. This may result in the inability to install the sprinkler system as specified in the plans. The installer must re-route the piping or redesign one section. All changes must be noted and sketched onto the plan. The changes to the plan must comply with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code. (3)
- May face owners or building managers who are difficult or hostile. They have to ask questions and provide information to help the person understand the situation and avoid continued hostility and conflict. (3)
- Decide if they require assistance from a co-worker or whether to use mechanical assistance to move heavy materials. (1)
- Decide on the assignment of tasks to various crew members based on their individual skill level, qualifications, experience and suitability for the work. (2)
- Decide whether to repair or replace equipment components, and what work tasks take priority over other tasks based on their experience and knowledge of the systems and the urgency to return the system to operation. (2)
- Decide on the time and location to start work on a new project. If they start too early, time is wasted waiting for other trades to complete their work; too late and the job will be made more difficult because the fitter may have to work around finished construction. (2)
Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.
Job Task Planning and Organizing
Sprinkler System Installers may work alone, with a partner or with a small crew. In all cases, they need to plan each day's activities and organize the tools and materials needed to carry out job tasks. They must co-ordinate their work tasks with building managers, fire department officials, insurance company representatives and other trades to avoid interference with installation of the equipment and congestion of people in the work area. Job task planning has to be flexible to account for interruptions due to lack of access to the work site or needed equipment. Occasionally, work on one job has to be abandoned temporarily in favour of another job where work can be carried out more productively. Consideration must always be given to the operational requirements of the building and urgency of the work. (3)
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember the names of other trades people, building managers and fire department officials.
- Remember security codes and padlock numbers for many different locations.
- Remember static and residual pressure data when testing systems.
- Remember field measurements until they can be written down or used.
- Contact suppliers and manufacturers to get information and technical data on equipment. (1)
- Refer to manuals, catalogues, parts books and use the Internet to get information and technical data needed to order parts and materials. (2)
- Refer to WHMIS labels, hazard symbols, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG), Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) regulations, and general health and safety manuals to locate information on products they are using. (2)
- Talk to co-workers to get opinions and suggestions on repair and maintenance problems. (2)
- Refer to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code for regulations on system installation and repairs. (3)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Sprinkler System Installers are part of a team typically made up of co-workers, a supervisor, a manager, receptionist and design engineers. They interact on daily or weekly basis with nearly all team members. They participate in discussions to resolve problems and discuss work plans and schedules. Sprinkler System Installers may work alone or with a small crew. Many Sprinkler System Installers are responsible for supervising and teaching apprentices.
Sprinkler System Installers apprentices learn by watching and assisting experienced journeypersons. Formal training is provided through technical training institutes or colleges. There are some opportunities for further training in the trade. Workers may attend presentations by manufacturers' representatives or an occasional in-house training session to deal with new procedures or materials.