We down here in the CommLawBlog bunker want to shine a spotlight – make that a high intensity white strobe – on the Tower Family Foundation. Just now getting off the ground (full official name: the Tower Industry Family Support Charitable Foundation), it provides financial assistance to family members of tower workers who are severely injured, permanently disabled, or killed while doing their job. The Foundation is providing important support for workers who are essential to any communications operation whose business depends on equipment hanging off the side (or stuck on top) of a tower.
No, you probably don’t have any tower workers on your payroll. But you’ll need one when the storm blows your stick over, or you want to swap out your old antenna for a spiffy new model, or you’re trying to change transmitter sites. Tower workers are like surgeons: you may not need them often, but when you do, you generally need them (a) badly and (b) right away.
The trouble is that, unlike surgeons who work in the capacious climate-controlled comfort of an OR populated with lots of helping hands and cool whiz-bang technology, tower workers do their thing in lonely confined quarters hundreds of feet in the air, exposed to the elements; they work without much more than a few tools that can fit in a small bag. (Any skeptics need only check out this video – or others like it – to get a sense of working conditions at the top of a tower.) It is difficult and dangerous work. How dangerous? As we reported last February, in 2013 13 tower workers died in work-related accidents; four had died this year before February was half over.
The Foundation’s goal is to provide “bridge funds” to the families of workers injured while working at heights or in tower-work-related accidents. The one-time grants will ideally be available in very short order after the accident to assist with expenses (e.g., food, transportation, mortgage) that might not be immediately covered by insurance or other resources. Scholarships (up to a maximum of $10,000 over four years) are also available.
The Foundation was formed through the efforts of the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), which will work closely with the Foundation going forward. The original idea, though, came from Clear Talk Wireless, an FHH client, supported by our own Don Evans. They approached NATE and, lo and behold, the vision was realized. The Foundation’s launch was announced earlier this month at the CTIA Super Mobility Week in Las Vegas. Participating in the festivities was Don who, with Clear Talk Wireless’s Eric Steinmann, presented the Foundation with an initial funding donation of $400,000. (You can find a picture of Don looking uncharacteristically serious here – just scroll down a bit.) Don will continue to participate in meetings of the Foundation’s Advisory Board as it receives and processes requests for grants.
Fletcher Heald is proud and grateful to be associated with the Foundation and the excellent and much-needed resources it provides. We encourage other communications companies to contribute to the effort. Information about making donations – the Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization – or otherwise getting involved is available on the Foundation’s website.