Waterbury Local 353 Members Provide Warmth in a Deep Freeze

When a cold freeze of arctic proportions hit Connecticut the weekend of Jan. 6, members of AFSCME Local 353, the Waterbury Blue Collar Union, did their part to help the city’s most vulnerable residents.

At the request of Mayor Neil M. O’Leary, six city and board of education plumbers served on call throughout the weekend to answer calls and trouble-shoot problems, from frozen pipes to broken furnaces and everything in between.

Local 353 members offered advice on the phone, performed minor repairs and shut off water mains at homes with frozen pipes. Their services were especially helpful to the elderly and to residents in housing managed by absentee landlords.

Nick DiBona, a veteran plumber for the Board of Education, went to the home of a 93-year-old woman who was shivering in an apartment where the temperature had plummeted to 50 degrees. He immediately fired up her furnace and got her heat restored.

“She was happy. I’m glad we could help,” DiBona said.

Other Local 353 members on call during the weekend were Electrician Foreman Tony Cicchiello, the union vice president; Plumbing Foreman Ralph Perillo; and Plumbers Mark Golymbieski and Mark Petano.

 “It was gratifying to help people out in the bitter cold,” Perillo said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Cicchiello, the union vice president, added, “The Mayor asked for our help, and we stepped up to take care of our residents.”

Mayor O’Leary expressed his appreciation for Local 353.

“This was goodwill mission to take care of our residents, particularly our elderly during an extended cold period,” he said. “I am thankful to all of the City of Waterbury plumbers from AFSCME Local 353 for their dedicated service to our residents during the recent severe cold weather.”


Helpful tips for coping with extreme cold:
According to Waterbury Public Schools Plumbing Supervisor Ralph Perillo there are a few common sense measures that can help deal with cold-related problems, including:

  • Keeping the heat turned up to at least 65 degrees, Fahrenheit, although 70 is better.
  • Make sure windows and doors are secured.
  • Keep interior doors open to ensure heat is even through the house and open up cabinets holding pipes so they are heated as well.
  • If water stops flowing out of a particular facet, try getting a space heater in the area to thaw a pipe.
  • Keep faucets running just a trickle in suspected vulnerable spots.
  • Ensure you have enough oil in your tank.