What is a Boilermaker?

The Union Boilermaker craft is comprised of a multifaceted, highly skilled workforce that helps to sustain every form of American industry. At one time, anything that operated by steam fell under the Boilermaker work jurisdiction. Nowadays, the power generation industry is vastly dependent on the skills that Boilermakers provide. Since we organized in 1881 – through the present time – the scope of work has grown to be one of the premier trades which service the following industries: Nuclear, Fossil, Hydro-electric, Waste to Energy, Tidal & Geo-Thermal, Steel, Petroleum, Chemical, Paper Mills, Breweries, Wineries, Mines, Recycling Plants, Sewage Treatment Plants, Bio-Diesel, Flex-Fuels, Ethanol Plants, Canneries, Schools – plus numerous other facilities.

What do Boilermakers do?

Boilermakers fabricate, install, erect, dismantle and maintain the components and structures from the Light Commercial through the Heavy Industrial sector (tanks, process towers, smokestacks, etc.).

Boilermakers make, install, and repair boilers, vats, and other large vessels that hold liquids and gases. Boilers supply steam to drive huge turbines in electric power plants and to provide heat and power in buildings, factories, and ships. Chemicals, oil, beer, and hundreds of other products are processed and stored in tanks and vats. Boilers and other high-pressure vessels are usually made in sections, by casting each piece out of molten iron or steel. Small boilers may be assembled in the manufacturing plant; larger boilers are usually assembled on site. Following blueprints for installing boilers and other vessels, boilermakers locate and mark reference points on the boiler foundation, using straightedges, squares, transits, and tape measures. Boilermakers attach rigging and signal crane operators to lift heavy frame and plate sections and other parts into place. They align sections, using plumb bobs, levels, wedges, and turnbuckles. Boilermakers use hammers, files, grinders, and cutting torches to remove irregular edges so edges fit properly. Then they bolt or weld edges together. Boilermakers align and attach water tubes, stacks, valves, gauges, and other parts and test complete vessels for leaks or other defects. Usually they assemble large vessels temporarily in a fabrication shop to insure a proper fit before final assembly on the permanent site.

Boilermaker Skills

Boilermakers perform the following skills:

  • Major concentration on High Pressure and Structural Welding, along with various cutting
    procedures is used. Our welders must qualify with many processes, procedures and
    metallurgy. We employ the latest technologies to meet the ever changing worksites.
  • Rigging, signaling, and hoisting materials and equipment from small winches through the
    largest cranes in the world
  • Steel fabrication, erection and dismantling
  • Inspection and testing
  • Scaffold erection and dismantling
  • Blueprint interpretation
  • Bolting and torquing of pressure vessels and structural components

For more information on our trade, please watch the above YouTube video or visit the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers website.