Volunteers meet for breakfast at the Heats's On registration at the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education and Conference Center.
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL - As autumn began in Minnesota, local volunteers made sure the homes of people in need are safe and warm for the heating season. A total of 340 low-income senior and disabled homeowners in the Twin Cities, Mankato, and St. Cloud area communities received free furnace inspections, repairs, and smoke alarms on Saturday, Sept. 24, thanks to two local pipefitter unions and their union contractors.

Project "Heat's On," a community service project celebrating its 20th anniversary, is meant to combat home heating hazards, including fires and carbon monoxide poisoning that result from lack of maintenance.

Over 338 volunteers from the St. Paul Pipefitters Local No. 455, Minneapolis Pipefitters Local No. 539, and the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association formed two-person teams after their early morning breakfast in St. Paul, Mankato, and St. Cloud, and were assigned a list of people in need of their services. Qualifying households were identified with the help of local human services agencies including the Ramsey Action Programs, Community Action for Suburban Hennepin, and the Minneapolis Community Action Agency.

U.S. Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) speaks to volunteers before the Heat's On event.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Project Heat‘s On, 10 furnaces were provided free of charge to those low-income senior and handicapped homeowners whose furnace was red-tagged during the inspection process. Carrier Corp., in cooperation with local distributor Minnesota Air and the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association, donated the furnaces.

"The 20 year success of Heat's On proves that unions, business, and government can work together in partnership," said Steve Pettersen, executive vice president of the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association.

"Heating related fires are one of the leading causes of residential fires in Minnesota," said Mike Johnson, business manager for Minneapolis Pipefitters Local 539. "Our goal for this program is to keep our senior and disabled homeowners safe and warm for the upcoming heating season."

"The senior and disabled homeowners we serve appreciate the work our members do for them" said Jerry Barnes, business manager for St. Paul Pipefitters Local No. 455. "Our volunteers are very gratified knowing they have helped people in need of their services."

Heat's On was started in Minnesota in 1986 and has grown into serving communities in numerous states. In Minnesota, Heat's On has provided more than 21,165 technician volunteer service hours, servicing and cleaning furnaces in 5,316 homes, which amounts to over $2,078,000 in service work.

Publication date: 10/31/2005