Fire Safety in Cities

I mentioned previously about my company sometimes being, how should I put this…less than ethical, and asking me to stretch the truth so that more money can be pulled in. A job site I went to recently was no different.

Washing the truth through a little lie

My coworker and I couldn’t work on fixing the fire escape we’d been repairing because it was raining. So we called up our boss and asked for a different work order for the day. We got sent to this laundromat where the fire inspectors had come in and told the owners that they needed to do some repairs to get it up to code.

Drop ceiling from below

Here was the issue: Like most businesses in cities, the laundromat shared one wall with the business next door. The shared wall looked fine to your basic customer, but if you lifted the ceiling panels, you could see that for half the wall, it didn’t go all the way up to the concrete deck above. For fire safety, walls have to go from the floor all the way to the concrete deck above–concrete to concrete, basically. In some buildings, like this one, the builders didn’t do that. They stopped the wall as soon as it hit the drop ceiling. So for this laundromat, half the wall went all the up to the concrete above, but the other half stopped.

This means that only one half of the wall up above the ceiling panels needed two layers of dry wall to make it fire proof. The estimator from my company (he gets there before us and gives the business owner an estimate of the cost of the job) didn’t really look at the job very close and assumed the entire wall needed the drywall up top.

So when my coworker and I are doing this job, the building engineer asked why we were drywalling the part of the wall that went all the way to the top concrete and I told him that I honestly didn’t know and that it was a waste of money to do that.

That engineer called my boss so fast, and the estimator, and man was the engineer pissed. He told my boss that the estimator lied to him and that they’re trying to charge for more work than is needed.

Drop ceiling with the panels removed

After they all got off the phone, our company estimator called me and asked “Why did you tell them it didn’t need to be drywalled on both sides? I just got reamed and he called us a dishonest company!” I told him that the engineer asked me point blank why I was doing what I was and so I couldn’t exactly lie to him. I told the estimator that I wouldn’t lie for him. I told him that if something is wrong or something needs to be done, then I’m going to do it, but if the company is going to sell people more than they need, well, I’m not gonna play that game (some people just don’t like making money honestly via Thousandaire).

The work was already going to cost them because to put up the 2 layers of drywall on only half the wall was time consuming…we had to cut around all the pipes in the wall and add fire tape to it and dry wall tape, then one coat of mud and fire caulk between the ceiling and the drywall. We don’t need to be charging people for extra useless work!

I remember being taught that honesty is the best policy, but it really might get me fired (unemployment benefits sound pretty good though via Financial Samurai). Even though I do have some status in the company, they’d probably have a pretty easy time finding another construction worker who would be happy to lie. Although I do have my welding leverage still…


Photos: laundromat; drop ceiling; drop ceiling without panels


Fire Safety in Cities — 10 Comments

  1. You did the right thing. Your reputation is defined by your honesty or dishonesty, and will always follow you everywhere you go. I agree with you that it’s poor business practice to lie to clients to get them to pay for services and products that they don’t need. Your boss needs to tear a page out of your playbook. Really!
    Anthony Thompson recently posted..Self Management – More Classic Self-Management Books You Should Start Reading TodayMy Profile

    • Honestly, I don’t know. Too honest for my own good, I guess. I do have the leverage of being a good welder and having been with the company awhile, but still…

  2. Hi TB,
    That’s an admirable trait! I hope you continue to hold on to that. We need all the honest people that we can have in this world.
    Even if your boss won’t appreciate having you, someone else will.
    I agree with Anthony, your good reputation will follow you and people will be clamoring for your services.
    Theresa Torres recently posted..How to Build Business CreditMy Profile

  3. Good move.

    My father was a Merchant Marine deck officer, back in the day when a man didn’t need a college degree to move up to the bridge.

    He was working for Standard Oil, shipping out of Rodeo, California. I never knew what he saw — my mother said it was something on the docks — but whatever it was, it caused him to quit his job on the spot. I was just a little kid but knew enough to be impressed and awed by his integrity.

    He was extremely good at what he did — had a great reputation up and down the West Coast (he was licensed to sail any tonnage, any ocean, which at the time was a rarity). In less than a week he had another job, working for Union Oil.

    Don’t know if you have kids, but if you do and they’re older than infants, they’ll understand the meaning of what you did here.
    Funny about Money recently posted..FoF: Last-minute Carnival Hosting!My Profile

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