Why We Need Stationary Engineers
( Originally Published 1930 )
Importance of the Occupation.—A stationary engineer is a man who operates or assists in the operation of a steam power plant. Practically all large industrial establishments, office buildings, hospitals, schools, and apartment houses have their own plants for generating heat, power, and electricity for the purpose of obtaining warmth, and energy with which to operate machinery, elevators, and lights. In most apartment houses where heat only is desired, however, the boilers are handled by men who are not stationary engineers. For that purpose it is not necessary to employ men who are able to operate machinery which can generate seventy-five or more horsepower. In addition to the power-plant work, the stationary engineer operates or assists in the operation of refrigerating and ventilating systems when-ever they are installed in the building in which he is employed. Refrigerating systems are commonly found in hotels and restaurants, and ventilating devices are found in all large buildings. In some theaters, special means of reducing the temperature during the hot months have been installed. The establishment of refrigerating systems and plants has made it possible for us to produce ice at will, and we are, therefore, no longer dependent upon nature for this commodity. The manufacture of artificial ice and the invention of other methods of cooling have made the preservation of perishable food articles a simple matter. This has made it possible for us to enjoy foods out of their proper seasons whereas in the past such a thing was only within the reach of the very wealthy people. When we go to the theater or to any other place where large numbers of people meet, we are made comfortable in the summer by means of the ventilating and cooling systems now in use, and we are warmed in the winter by the heat from the boilers in the power plant. A power plant is also important because without the power, heat, and light, which it generates, it would be impossible to bring together in one building great numbers of workers to produce goods upon a large scale and with the most efficient methods of production. All of these things which have been mentioned have been made possible by the work of the men who operate the power plants, refrigerating systems, and ventilating devices. Consequently, they have come to be considered as workers who are essential to the welfare of the community.