The plumbing community has a vital role in advocating to governments and promoting to the broader community the link between good quality plumbing, health, environmental sustainability and, increasingly, economic prosperity.
St Kilda Pier is one of Victoria’s big builds and is taking plumbers to depths not usually required.
Don’t be mistaken, Kennedys Group’s plumbers are not fishing or swimming in freezing cold St Kilda bay during work hours. They are dressed in waders and wetsuits for work. As part of the Victorian Government’s $50 million commitment to the St Kilda Pier rebuild, the biggest construction project for any pier asset in Victoria’s history, Kennedys Group is tasked with the challenging job of bringing the hydraulic infrastructure down the pier for the kiosk and restaurant, as well as the St Kilda Sea Baths.
Kennedys Group project manager Nathan Brodie says his crew may not look like plumbers when entering the worksite, but their skills are tested daily as they think of out-of-the-box solutions for
this architecturally significant site.
“Securing the fire service under the pier has seen the team producing innovations to work within the unique parameters under which this project operates,” Nathan explains. “Some of the innovations include securing the 150mm fire service under the pier via use of a barge-boat combination. While in the shallower depths, we have the plumbers working in waders and wetsuits.
“Our team is working with the tides, swells and weather to get the safest and most optimal working conditions. When installing the 100-metre lengths of 125mm PE pipe under the pier, our team are
required to cap off each end, so we can float this out on top of the water and then lift it into position to clip atop a barge.”
But it is not just about the physicality of working beside and under a pier, it is also about the materials required for the harsh marine environment. “Sourcing different styles of clipping systems that conform with the requirement of every fixing to be made from 316 stainless steel at a minimum saw us searching globally for the product.
“Finally, we have worked with ESV (Energy Safe Victoria) to remedy design complications to keep the gas works compliant in such an environment.”
Nathan says it is this complexity that had Kennedys tender for the pier development, which would see them working with lead construction partner, Simpson Construction.
“We were excited at the concept of taking on such a unique project working within a historically significant area as well as the challenge of working in and around the natural environment.”
The iconic St Kilda Pier Redevelopment is a Parks Victoria and Department of Transport and Planning project that, once complete, will provide improved recreational space, public access for the community and visitors out onto the bay, improved views of St Kilda and the city skyline, better protection and viewing area for the little penguins, a wider disability compliant walkway, new toilets,
tiered seating, and preservation of the precinct’s heritage features. The pier will be constructed from concrete and timber and extend about 450 metres with a 50-year design life. The pier is due for
completion in 2024. Although, due to technical complexity and weather, it has faced some delays but remains on track overall.
With the benefit of hindsight, Nathan said he would make some adjustments to his estimates. “In the next project of a similar application, [I would be] creating a more generous timeframe for unpredictable weather conditions on the overall [plumbing elements of the] project delivery.”
Plumber, Allan Kennedy, started Kennedys Group in 1976. Kennedys Group today, is a complete construction and trade services provider, offering a convenient single point of contact for all your construction, interiors and fitout, plumbing, electrical, asbestos and metal fabrication needs throughout Victoria. Kennedys now has more than 180 staff members with 10 apprentices. Importantly, Nathan says, the organisation is known for taking on the projects that others don’t want to tackle because of the high level of problem solving.
St Kilda Pier is one of the bigger projects that Nathan, a plumber for 18 years, has tackled in his two years at Kennedys as a Project Manager (PM).
Nathan’s shift from plumber to PM was a natural progression as his body started to “slow down” and his interest turned to leadership, liaising with builders and other trades, and working to
find optimal and compliant solutions for difficult projects.
So, what advice would he give younger plumbers who are seeking to get into the major project arena? “Observe and take in as much knowledge as you can from mentors and peers. Come to work with a positive attitude, and a willingness to learn and develop new skills,” Nathan says.
“Ask questions, study the plans, liaise with the builders or clients where appropriate, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
“The plumbing industry offers so much variety in both the works we do and the challenges we take on each day, which brings a lot of excitement. The range of works are always around and if one avenue isn’t your cup of tea, then take a new path within the industry and find an area you will thrive in.”
For Nathan, some of his best projects include:
• HMAS Cerberus Navy base upgrades
• Caulfield Racecourse infrastructure upgrades
• State Netball and Hockey Centre roof replacement
• Albion Hotel hydraulics package
• Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne roof replacement
• Alstom facility upgrades
• Aesop hydraulic package
• Thales Headquarters hydraulics package
“All these projects have taught me a variety of skills over my time in the industry, with a high importance on the safety of the community but also your fellow peers on a day-to-day basis.
“Plumbing really is a vital part of our community and keeping lives safe through the prevention of disease and various environmental issues.
“Holding ourselves to a high standard of quality and innovation to lead and teach the upcoming generation of plumbers in the industry is something I want to pass on from my experiences across these projects.”
Kennedys Group is a member of Master Plumbers.