The University Record, May 24 , 1999

Calls about facilities problems monitored 24 hours per day

By Kerry Colligan

Randy Lamkin (seated) and Jeff Smith man the headquarters for after hours maintenance and utilites service, keeping an ear open for the telephone and an eye on the computer screen. In addition to answering phone calls for help, computers monitor air flow and temperature and sound an alarm. Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle
Expert after-hours help with facilities or utilities problems is now just a phone call away. Calls to Plant Order Services (647-2059) and Energy Management Services (763-4013) are monitored around the clock 365 days per year.

In the past, first response to late-night emergencies fell to Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers. The officers were efficient, “but they aren‘t mechanics, and we didn‘t expect them to be,” notes Bonnie Brown, assistant facilities manager at the Medical School and a member of the After-Hours Response Team (AHRT), which recommended the 24-hour on-call duties to improve customer service.

Calls about after-hours emergencies now are routed to a central office. Utilizing on-campus staff and a sizable list of available tradespeople, those who receive the calls send staff to the site to assess the problem, determine how quickly action needs to be taken and, if appropriate, which tradespeople need to be called to handle immediate repairs.

Energy Management Services (EMS) computers monitor the airflow, temperature, humidity, lighting and other environmental factors of more than 60 percent of the buildings on campus. Problems noted by EMS computers also are handled by the on-campus/on-call system.

According to Brown, there have been cases when—because of the speed of the system—on-call staff have taken action before Medical School staff were aware of a problem.

“From all accounts, the system is working well,” Brown says. “ULAM [Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine] is a frequent customer. They have air and water concerns with all of their automated systems. We‘ve gotten very positive reports from Gwen Day and others at ULAM.”

Day, supervisor of laboratory services for ULAM, says the new system not only saves her time away from home, but also, and more importantly, provides peace of mind. “I have confidence in the on-call staff. We have quite a few animal runs across campus and we worry about ventilation and air handling. With staff monitoring the buildings 24 hours a day, there is a Œsafety valve.‘ They understand the issues involved in caring for the animals.”

The new system was implemented in September and staff have been increasingly busy ever since. The number of daily calls, says Tim Kennedy, programmer analyst for Utilities and Maintenance Services, “depends a lot on the weather and the activity of the campus community.” Showers and thunderstorms invariably bring water leaks, he adds.

Rick Kroth, utility systems technician, says he has answered calls for some interesting maintenance emergencies, including wild chickens, bats and flash floods.

For a maintenance concern at any time, call 647-2059.

Hospitals and Housing Division maintenance concerns should continue to be directed to their maintenance staffs at 936-5054 and 76-FIXIT respectively. Life/safety concerns should be directed to DPS, 763-1131 or 911.

Team members

Members of the After-Hours Response Team were:

Bobbie Abend, Utilities and Maintenance Services (U&MS); Mike Adams, U&MS; Karl Altenbrent, U&MS; Dave Anderson, U&MS; David Atkins, College of Engineering Facilities Office;

Steve Brabbs, U&MS; Bonnie Brown, Medical School Facilities Office; Bill Fink, U&MS; Rick Hadden, U&MS Key Office; Gary Hill, Department of Public Safety; Dennis Kreig, U&MS; Cindy Schaedig, U&MS;

Robin Sharp, U&MS; Mike Smigielski, Housing Division; Alan Stevens, Plant Operations; and Jim Vibbart, U&MS.