Chancellor Hosts Breakfast for Facilities Workers Battling Cold-Weather Issues

Facilities Services employees were recognized this week for their service above and beyond the call of duty during recent freezing weather.

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek invited more than 170 employees to breakfast to extend his personal thanks.

facilities breakfast seated“This storm was extraordinary and required fourteen-hour shifts, with many people sleeping very little before their next shift,” Cheek said. “Many individuals didn’t go home. They slept here.

“Your efforts helped us to recover quickly. Your proactive work helped us avoid even more serious problems.

“We appreciate all that you did to keep the university running during the freezing weather,” he said. “And we also appreciate your work and your dedication to our campus year round.”

This month’s plummeting temperatures coupled with rain and snow have resulted in broken pipes, malfunctioning HVAC units, and flooding at numerous sites around campus. Many employees from grounds, maintenance, building services, plumbing, electrical, steam plant, and zone maintenance have worked extended shifts to address the problems.

Pipes have frozen at Neyland Stadium, Regal Soccer Stadium, and Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium. Other buildings impacted included Volunteer Hall, Hess Hall, Morrill Hall, Massey Hall, South Carrick Hall, Reese Hall, Alumni Memorial, Greve Hall, and the International House.

“We assisted with fire alarms all over campus due to freezing sprinkler pipes,” said Utilities Director Roy Warwick. “The fire alarm crew, plumbers, zone maintenance, and high-voltage guys were here around the clock.

“All of our employees showed initiative and spent long hard hours here working in the extremely cold weather. They stuck with it until it was done and they didn’t quit. That can be said of everyone.”

Even before the storm hit, Facilities Services crews were preparing equipment and getting ready to apply salt and sand to melt ice on roads and walkways.

“This is the type of event where the true dedication of our people shows through and everybody steps up to the plate when the chips are down,” said Zone Maintenance Director Terry Ledford.

Frigid temperatures resulted in the campus steam plant producing a record amount of steam on January 5 — 4,421,725 pounds.

“We always run 24-7,” said Steam Plant General Superintendent Darryl Ford. “The colder it gets, the more we actually have to do.”

Adding to their work, pipes in steam plant’s basement froze and burst, and the coal belt froze.

“We are proud of the way that everybody went above and beyond to make sure the campus had heat,” Ford said. “Everybody worked really hard and worked together, and we managed to meet the demand under difficult circumstances.”

C O N T A C T :

Brooke Stevenson (865-974-7782, bsteve14@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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