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Re: [TowerTalk] Re: TowerTalk Digest, Vol 20, Issue 73

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Re: TowerTalk Digest, Vol 20, Issue 73
From: Jim Lux <>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2004 10:38:17 -0700
List-post: <>
At 05:16 AM 8/25/2004 -0400, wrote:
Would you climb a tower built by some one other than a pro?

Sammy F. Smith

I think the more relevant question is whether you'd climb a tower built by someone competent.

While professionals (in the sense that they get paid to build towers for a living) carry liability insurance (hopefully), and if they've been in business a while, presumably have some practical experience (and would have left the business if incompetent), being paid to do something doesn't guarantee competence.

Likewise, an amateur is perfectly capable of building a well engineered and safe tower installation.

The real question is one along the lines of:
"I'm standing in front of this tower, how likely do I think it's going to have a problem?"

If the tower were built and installed by a professional with longstanding good reputation, I wouldn't think the problem likely, and presuming the tower "looked ok", I'd hook up my PPE and have at it. If it were installed by a professional who I didn't know (personally or by reputation) and especially if it looked "weird" (like rusted hardware, or obvious big dings in the components), or it was recently painted or regalvanized, I might want to know a bit more about where it came from and its history, and might want to check the installation details a bit more.

Exactly the same would be true if it were an amateur.

After all, all it takes to be a "professional", is to hang out your shingle and get that business license. It's not like being a Professional Engineer (with the capital letters) where there is some education, experience, and testing required (not that licensure guarantees quality or honesty, as would be evident from the newsletters I get from the California Board of PEs). And, from the licensed contractor standpoint, all that does is impose some requirements for bonding/insurance, and ensures that the contractor company meets certain requirements for how they do business. Not much about the inherent quality of the work factors into a contractor's license (at least in CA).

I suppose if a licensed professional were to be truly incompetent, they might get their license revoked, or they'd become uninsurable (after enough disasters), and then their license would get pulled, however that's a many year process.

Being a licensed professional myself, I think that the value comes from:
1) The odds are better that the professional is going to do "the right thing", just by experience (which you can verify, see #2, below).
2) A professional has usually done it before, and will have no problem with a customer calling previous customers to check on or go look at other examples of their work.
3) A professional will generally do things in a more rigorous and consistent way. In the case of engineering studies, they get done in a certain way, with certain standard analyses, etc. The added rigor makes it less likely that something was overlooked.
3) If a disaster or just something unexpected DOES occur, the pro is more likely to have the resources and inclination to "make good".

A secondary benefit is the idea of "professional ethics and responsibility", but I am cynical enough after having worked in the entertainment industry to know that not all folks who claim to be professional, really are, in the "professionalism" sense. Perhaps the Reaganesque: "trust but verify" philosophy is best?

Jim Lux, P.E. #E16972 W6RMK


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