Between the sun and tar, roofers have to be careful

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Roofer Neely Broomer pushes a vat of tar known as "hot." The tar is melted in the vat before being pumped to the roof.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Roofer Neely Broomer pushes a vat of tar known as "hot." The tar is melted in the vat before being pumped to the roof.

A small group of men quickly climb a freestanding ladder to the top of a two-story business off Broad Street.

As the sun beats down on their backs, they begin applying hot tar and rolling out long strips of roofing material to the flat roof.

A light breeze offers little relief.

Because of the tremendous heat of the tar, also known as "hot," the men have to wear long pants and long sleeves to protect against scalding, adding to the heat they feel.

"The hot gets to about 525 degrees," said Jesse Taylor, 58, a job foreman for Southern Roofing.

The 40-year roofing veteran says he's never been burned.

The hot, made of petroleum byproducts, is melted in a vat on the ground before being pumped to the roof into a specialized container that looks like a cross between a wheelbarrow and an oil drum.

The men respect the hot, always conscious of its location and their distance from it.

The hot is mopped onto the roof before roofing material called modified white is applied to help seal it against the elements.

For the most part, the men can deal with the sweltering heat of summer.

"When it's 95 degrees out, with 100 percent humidity, then it's 110 degrees up here," Mr. Taylor said. "You get used to it."

He makes sure his crew takes three breaks a day - two 15-minute breaks in the morning and afternoon and an hour at lunchtime.

Mr. Taylor takes his job seriously and has been with Southern Roofing since 1985.

He says teamwork is essential.

"If everyone works together, it's not that hard," he said. "Otherwise, that's a hell of a stress on you. With some guys, I have to repeat what to do over and over."

Mr. Taylor says there is a specific order to applying the tar and the roofing material.

For him, knowledge is priceless.

"Once you learn something," he said, "nobody can take that away from you."

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WW1949
19
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WW1949 07/29/07 - 08:27 am
0
0
People like him are getting

People like him are getting harder and hardr to find. All that is left to do this type of work are people with problems. This is why the Mexican's are taking over the roofing work.

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