Steel in the News
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Posted by Ted Sheppard on October 13, 2010 at 8:26 AM.
If you are a steel erector, and you have never been at least threatened with arrest, you have lived a very sheltered life. I am not talking about committing a crime, but trying to build a bridge or a building. I was talking about this to a colleague the other day, and he said that he had actually been put in handcuffs by the state police. I have never had that pleasure, but I have had some interesting adventures.
I was told once that if we set a girder on our falsework bent, the owner’s representative would call the state police and have us arrested. All we wanted to do was build the darn bridge. From an engineering standpoint we were right, and the owner was wrong, but we had to hold up our progress for days until it could be straightened out. I actually was flying home that night, and as I was leaving, I asked our superintendent to see if they would let us put the girder in place but not unhook the derrick. He said that he was reluctant to do so because of the threat. He knew my wife, so I told him that Mary would bake him a cake with a file in it. Well, we didn’t set the girder on the bent.
We were threatened with arrest on a job where one of our cranes on a two-crane lift lost hydraulic fluid at the outrigger, and it could not hold up its end. The girder was partially erected, and we were trying to pick up that end by driving pins in the splice. The police told us we were making too much noise, and if we did not stop, we would be arrested. We made sure everything was safe and decided to fight the battle another day.
The steel hauler on the Canadian side of an international bridge did not have a tractor and trailer that could haul the 80-90 ton pieces that we had. The hauler leased the equipment from a hauler in the United States. I was in the office trailer one day when a man came in and said that the equipment was in Canada illegally. I asked him who he was. He quickly flashed an ID card in front of me and said he was with the RCMP. I did not help matters. I was used to the Hollywood Mountie: full dress uniform, beautiful smile, straight teeth, etc. This man was in civilian clothes and he had terrible teeth. I walked over to the trailer door, looked outside, and said, “Where’s your horse?” He impounded the rig. It was handled well by our hauler, but it was just another distraction.
Once while working on another bridge job, I went to the post office to pick up the mail. When I got back, there were three state police cars on the job, and there was a lot of shouting going on. They raided our job in order to pick up a scofflaw. A little over-kill in my opinion, and I told that to the sergeant at the police barracks. The young man they were after was a Native American, and he ran. He eluded capture and made it back to the reservation. The police were very upset. Again we were just trying to build a bridge. Police: Keep Out.