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Aug 14, 2012 11:45 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hamptons Hot Jobs: Roofers Tolerate Temperatures For The High Life

Aug 15, 2012 8:49 AM

Greg Morrison’s red T-shirt, faded and sweat-drenched, might incite dread in anyone accustomed to working in an air-conditioned office.

July 2012 was the hottest month since the National Weather Service began recording temperatures more than a century ago, but Mr. Morrison described the blistering heat of a recent Monday as “really nice.”

Without cloud cover to halt the unrelenting rays of the sun, a crew of four mostly shirtless workers collected their tools from a scaffold on the corner of Hampton Road and Main Street. It was almost 4 p.m.—the sun was far past its high point, but it was still 86 degrees.

When asked whether roofing qualified of as one of the hottest jobs in the Hamptons, most of the roofers interviewed scoffed as if it were ridiculous to even have to ask.

The consensus among East End roofers was that it is typically between 20 and 40 degrees hotter on the roof than it is on the ground. Even on a moderately hot day, temperatures can reach 120 to 130 degrees up on the roof, where there’s rarely relief from the sun, and any breeze that may have helped cool down the roofers is blocked by the angles of the surrounding roofs.

“Everyone in the Hamptons wants dark shingles,” said Felix Delossantos, the project manager at Line Home Construction of Southampton—and that makes it much worse, as the darker colors absorb much more heat and present an array of problems. Workers need to wear work boots on dark shingles; lesser plastic or rubber soles will melt and leave marks, said Mr. Delossantos. Also, dark shingles “heat up to the point where we have to wear pants so we don’t burn our legs,” said Mr. Morrison of EML Construction, a Long Island firm.

“You should have been here a couple weeks ago,” he added—though it wasn’t clear which week he meant, since it could have been any of the weeks this July that broke heat records set during the “dust bowl” years of the 1930s.

Mr. Delossantos’s strategy for unbearably hot days is to avoid the peak hours of heat, between noon and 4 p.m., by taking lunch or finishing up indoor work during that period.

No one recalls anyone actually passing out from the heat, but they did say that a new worker who isn’t used to the job will get light-headed if he doesn’t drink enough water or doesn’t know his body’s limits. The usual remedy for weakness or dizziness is to sit in the shade, drink a lot of water, and take it easy for a few minutes.

While there were large fans running inside the building off Main Street, out on the scaffolding there wasn’t a shadow in sight. To keep cool, EML Construction roofer Mike Taynor joked that the only advice he had was to “wait until you get out, get into your car and turn up the AC,” a prospect the crew smiled at. He added that the most important advice, which was echoed by everyone interviewed, was to stay hydrated and try to stay in the shade. Mr. Delossantos added a few more tips, saying that he recommends his roofers wear white clothing and always cover exposed skin with sunscreen.

All of the roofers interviewed joked about the heat, but none really complained. According to Tom Frank, the foreman of Hamptons Roofing Contractors in Hampton Bays, that’s because “guys on the roof, they’re in the money. The heat’s just something you have to tolerate.”

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Wearing a white shirt keeps you cooler than taking your shirt off guys, and protects you from a multitude of dangers associated with overexposure to sun rays, so i guess you are mainly working on your tan.
By Brian Bailey (36), Southampton on Aug 19, 12 2:52 PM
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