Nova Scotia office can draw on extensive resources to handle large-scale challenges

powervac image

powervac imagePower Vac Belfor leads in emergency recovery and environmental remediation

Canadian Design and Construction Report

After more than 25 years of regional leadership in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and mould remediation, Nova Scotia’s Power Vac has joined Belfor (Canada) Inc, the world’s largest independently-owned restoration company.

The business has a full-service location to handle duct cleaning, heavy metal handling and abatement (asbestos, PCB’s, lead, and other environmental challenges) and emergency recovery services for water damage, wind damage, mould, and odour and structure reconstruction.

Branch manager Ron Rizzo says the partnership enables the company to draw on a much larger labour pool and equipment reserve for major weather events.

“We still lead the market with our robotic inspection system for HVAC in commercial properties – allowing before and after pictures that show the inspection and blockages for documentation,” he said. We follow NADCA (North American Duct Cleaners Association) standards which incorporates documentation and delivery of this service to our customers. Our expanded services also include a full content manipulation centre that redirects 85 per cent of what normally has gone to landfills and restores to a pre-loss condition for the industry.”

While Power Vac Belfor is based in Halifax and Dartmouth, the business often works with other Belfor offices in New Brunswick and Newfoundland to offer full coverage to Atlantic Canada, sharing resources and staff as needed. “When large projects require a large labor pool or equipment to draw upon, all these offices collaborate to service the client in the most efficient and cost effective way possible,” he said.

Rizzo says the restoration work requires mobility and sometimes requires teams to “work out of suitcases” for weeks at a time.

“Even with emergency work there are several phases to the job – the first is to mitigate the emergency part of the job and stop any additional damage happening to the property, cleaning the critical damage and removing the wet material — and then there is the rebuild portion of the job which brings the property back to its pre-loss condition.”

Rizzo says environmental remediation can often be planned and scheduled ahead of time for demolitions and renovations, but when clients become aware of asbestos or lead paint issues this changes the job and the company must respond quickly to handle these situations.

These challenges require Power Vac Belfor to observe strict protocols to protect employees and the sites, including removal of contaminants. “Right now we’re working at Nova Forge, the old Trenton Works facility,” he said. “There was a large fire. The site has asbestos hardboard and lead paint that needs to be removed from this building. We’ll be about six weeks on this job.”

Environmental projects can take several months, including setting up containment barriers and distribution routes, attending safety and job site meetings and finally restoring the facility.

“We’ve done work in hospital settings with our people who are trained in infection control who set up negative pressure areas just to do the work required. Once that’s done the air is tested and this may end up leaving the negative pressure situation in place for the restoration work to ensure dust and airborne debris is controlled.”

Employees need diverse skills to handle the variety of site and environmental challenges. “There is a well planned and identified need to have flexible employees who have been cross- trained and who can be kept working in this diverse environment.,” he said. “Business grows fast when there is a weather pattern with a focus on insurance work and with good weather focus usually allows for the planned projects.”

Part of that flexibility comes from having a core group of well-trained staff who can mobilize rapidly to handle any emergency and then return to everyday responsibilities once the situation has been resolved.

“We do a lot of in-house training to ensure we are up-to-date on the best ways to handle a variety of materials and situations,” Rizzo said. “We have the latest technology to ensure new and improved ways to handle projects. You see people who come out of school with training and education but no experience. We believe the ideal is to marry both education and experience and ensure every member of our team has both.”

The company makes sure employees are valued and busy and that helps keeps them around. “We offer benefits and health plans that aren’t standard for the field, work to ensure our employees feel valued and the fact that we have some with us over 20 years or more tells me we’re doing something right.”

Rizzo says that consistency in staff, the exchange of knowledge between senior and new employees, instills a high level of confidence in clients who see the experience in the work being done. “Belfor has teams available that specialize in certain fields which allow us to draw upon a vast number of resources for any type of project should we have the need,” he said.

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