STAC goes to “NOLA” for NATE UNITE

Members of STAC’s steering committee meet with NATE’s board of directors. The STAC delegation included Ed Hachey (SBA), Jonathan Walsh (Tiller Engineering), Keith Ranney (Bell), Sharyn Gravelle (WSP), Clay Parchewsky (WesTower) and Nick Kyonka (STAC).
Members of STAC’s steering committee meet with NATE’s board of directors. The STAC delegation included Ed Hachey (SBA), Jonathan Walsh (Tiller Engineering), Keith Ranney (Bell), Sharyn Gravelle (WSP), Clay Parchewsky (WesTower) and Nick Kyonka (STAC).

With STAC 2016 just around the corner, the STAC Council can already count a successful trip to NATE UNITE under our belts.

Importantly, we can also now count on a budding and positive relationship with our older American neighbour, the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE).

In a meeting with NATE’s board on Feb. 21 – the day before NATE UNITE kicked off – a STAC delegation presented some of our early plans to help improve Canadian tower safety, and we learned about some of the challenges that NATE has faced in its 21-year history.

We were also thrilled to receive a pledge for NATE’s support, both in general and if we ever encounter some of those same challenges ourselves.

Among other advice, NATE’s board suggested that we be careful not to overreach in our first few months, and that we maintain particular focus on a few key deliverables that will provide value to STAC members.

They also spoke about the difficulties they encountered gaining carrier support, and commended all of Canada’s carriers who are already involved with STAC.

Thrilled to receive such a warm reception from NATE’s board of directors, we’ve already made plans to visit them again in August.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to build a closer relationship with NATE’s leadership, including at STAC 2016, where Todd Schlekeway – NATE’s executive director – will serve as a keynote speaker.

NWSA certification program

Fueled by our fantastic meeting with NATE’s board, the STAC delegation went into NATE UNITE the next day on a mission to make key contacts and to identify some potential future activities.

It wasn’t long before we were all talking about the National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA).

A new non-profit off-shoot of NATE, NWSA is mandated with providing “thorough, independent assessments of knowledge and skills” and “verifiable worker certification” for the U.S. tower industry.

Among other things, the alliance is developing certification programs for tower technicians and site foremen, which will complement the rigger and signalperson certification programs they released in late 2015.

In the days that followed, we developed several contacts at NWSA, and we made plans to remain in contact with their program manager, to watch what they’re doing, and to consider similar programs for the Canadian industry.

Conference sessions

In addition to the contacts we made at NATE UNITE, we also learned a lot about some of the challenges and issues currently affecting the U.S. tower industry, and about some of the opportunities that are now present.

We took in sessions on microwave signals, tower modification hazards and equipment compliance; as well as those on tower inspection drones, 5G networks, and the “future of the wireless industry.”

Now barely a month away, STAC 2016 will feature sessions addressing similarly important issues, including those on fall protection standards, tower due diligence, pinwheel fall arrest, and new tower lighting regulations and Safety Code 6 limits.

And we’ll also have our own expert panel discussion on the use of drones on the job, among other great sessions we’ve got lined up.

Like NATE, we’ve also arranged for a strong lineup of speakers consisting of national industry leaders in tower and RF safety and tower engineering.

With any luck, you’ll all be able to join us in Toronto in April to help make our inaugural conference as much of a success as was our trip to New Orleans for NATE UNITE.