UA 853 Apprentice Spotlight

Corey Lachapelle

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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I work for Troy Life and Fire, I am based out of Sudbury. I started the trade with Vipond, they are the only two companies in Sudbury for fire protection. I got into the trade after I went to school for Civil Engineering and I was working for a construction company, and I was basically a junior site superintendent, so I went around talking to all the different trades and getting to know all the different building sites that I was going to be working on. That is how I met the site super for Vipond. I didn’t really like being in the office doing what I was doing for engineering, I liked being out in the field. I liked the hands-on aspect a lot more.

2. How did you get into the sprinkler-fitter trade?

I had a friend who was working for Vipond at the time and that is how I knew about sprinklers. After I started working in this trade I ended up really liking it. I like the fact that you are always at different sites all the time, you’re not always confined to one building or one office your whole career. I like that you’re always at different places and you’re always looking at different types of systems, different applications for everything. That is what I find interesting about it. There are so many different things to branch out of in this trade, and the fact that you are saving lives doing this.

3. What would you say to someone considering the sprinkler-fitter apprenticeship?
I would definitely recommend this trade. It is a really good brotherhood to get into, everyone is looking out for you. Everyone wants you to do well. If you are a hard worker and show up on time, they want you to do well. They take the time to teach you things in class or after class. I really like the teachers here, if I have any type of question about a project I have to do, everyone here is really helpful; they want you to succeed.

4. What sort of characteristics would benefit someone coming into this kind of career?

Definitely being physically fit helps. Based on the things we have to do and lift, it helps.

5. What is your goal once this apprenticeship is done?

I want to get into inspection testing and maintenance. I like the fact that you are always troubleshooting systems and you’re always seeing what is wrong and observing what could possibly go wrong in any situation to make sure that the system will operate. This is the part that I like because you’re making sure a certain system will work at the time of a fire.

6. What obstacles have you seen yourself face so far in the program?

So far, the largest obstacle is being attentive at work, knowing why you’re doing certain things, and understanding the problems that could go wrong.

7. Is there anything that, as you entered the program, you found was a bit more of a challenge than you had anticipated?

Getting used to doing the work itself. The lifting and getting all the material from floor to floor, getting to know jobs from start to finish, and more of the aspect of running a job, that was what I wanted to understand. I want to make my apprenticeship as hard as possible when I am working with someone, so that when I am out in the field alone it is a lot easier because I made my apprenticeship harder.

8. Do you have any advice for people who might be a little apprehensive about joining the trade?

Not every person you are going to work with is going to mesh with your personality; they won’t all match. When that happens you just have to deal with it and be respectful and not start any arguments or anything like that. That is really the only obstacle I’ve seen.

Teamwork?

Yes, so on bigger sites you will have a bigger group of guys, and they will get together and have meetings and talk about the options they have weighing on their shoulders and which scenarios can be done the safer way.

9. Do you feel that making the decision to go into this trade has been a good decision for you financially?

This has been the best decision of my life. Honestly, I am glad I chose this route versus staying with my engineering. Not even just for the money, [which is great], but the fact that I am in a union, I have a pension, and I have benefits. I am fully protected. Nowadays, it is hard to find any job without a union that has benefits, pension, and you’re building something for the future. I feel like since you’re in a union, everyone is there to help each other out, and everyone wants you to succeed.

10. If you could start from the beginning is there anything you would change?

If I could start from the complete being out of high school, I would have completely avoided my engineering and gotten into this trade right away. Only because I would be three years ahead right now, I would already be licensed, running my own jobs, having my own service vehicle and getting into what I want: inspection testing and maintenance.

11. What advice would you give to a first-year apprentice?

Not everyday is going to be the best day, but you have easy days and you have hard days. You pretty much have to deal with the hard days and take the easy ones as they come. You just have to put the time in, [your attitude has to be right], and you have to be interested in it.