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Kidde plant to close by end of year

January 31, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

RANSON, W.Va. - The elimination of jobs associated with the closure of the Kidde Fire Fighting Inc. plant in Ranson will begin in May and will be conducted in phases, a spokeswoman for the company said Monday.

Judy DiScipio could not say how may jobs will be eliminated in each phase.

"I don't even think they have that firmed up yet," DiScipio said.

The job eliminations are scheduled to be completed by December, DiScipio said.

Last week, Kidde Fire Fighting officials announced they would be closing the local plant, ending decades of production of firefighting equipment like sprinkler systems.

The closure will result in the loss of 126 jobs, the company said.

The plant's operations include a foundry where workers pour molten brass and aluminum into molds to make parts, according to DiScipio and workers.

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DiScipio said Monday that Kidde and officials with United Technologies Corp., which owns the plant, decided to close the plant along Mildred Street because of high operational costs and a highly competitive market.

Dean Fawcett, who has been working at the plant for more than four years, said rumors about the plant's demise had been circulating at the factory.

"It wasn't like it was unexpected," Fawcett said as he left the plant Monday afternoon.

Company officials said some of the plant's manufacturing operations will be moved to other Kidde facilities and local employees will be able to apply for jobs that open in other locations.

Rather than move, Fawcett said he might go back to school.

"I really don't feel like relocating," Fawcett said.

To help local workers with the transition, the company will be offering career counseling and outplacement services to help them find other jobs, DiScipio said Monday.

United Technologies Corp. purchased the plant in April 2005. United Technologies owns a number of companies that specialize in other areas, such as Pratt and Whitney Aircraft, which makes aircraft engines, DiScipio said.

Kidde also announced last week that the company and Dixon Valve & Coupling Co., based in Chestertown, Md., signed a letter of intent for the sale of certain assets of Kidde's Powhatan brass business, subject to Dixon's due diligence review and mutually acceptable terms and conditions of sale.

The decision to close the plant is unaffected by the sale of assets to Dixon, company officials said in a press release.

DiScipio said she could not elaborate on the deal with Dixon Valve & Coupling Co.

Kidde Fire Fighting Inc. is a world leader in the marketing and manufacture of firefighting foam, fixed and mobile foam delivery systems, flexible hose products, sprinklers and brass valves and fittings. With headquarters in Exton, Pa., Kidde Fire Fighting Inc. has manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and West Virginia, according to the press release.

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