Each month a Facilities Services team is recognized for going beyond expectations and demonstrating an exceptional commitment to the university’s mission.
The first recipients of the award program are the members of the Steam Plant team. The employees are recognized for their continued dedication to the ongoing steam plant conversion project, their diligent work during a recent cold snap, and their exemplary commitment to the day-to-day operations of the plant.
“I don’t think people realize how much work we have to do,” said Darryl Ford, general superintendent of the steam plant. “Not all of our work comes in the wintertime. There is a lot of cleaning and maintenance work that is done during the summer so operations run smoothly during the colder months.”
The steam plant runs twenty-four hours a day to ensure an adequate supply of steam heat and hot water to buildings on the Knoxville campus and at the Institute for Agriculture.
Ford said this kind of responsibility comes with a certain level of commitment from the crews at the plant.
“There are some sacrifices involved when running this kind of operation,” Ford said, “but we are proud to do what it takes to keep campus warm.”
The responsibility of keeping steam running throughout campus presents some challenges. Once such instance came on January 8, when pressure dropped significantly in a natural gas line that runs to the plant.
To counteract the drop in pressure, workers acted rapidly to bring boilers back online. Their quick actions ensured that steam continued to be delivered properly throughout campus.
“With a less experienced crew we would have lost power and services to the campus, causing closures and a major disruption,” said Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Services. Instead, the steam plant team leapt into action, making on-the-fly adjustments to keep everything running smoothly.
“It is because of the skill of the steam plant team that the campus was unaware of the crisis—something that is par for the course for this team,” Irvin said.
In addition to their regular responsibilities, the team also has played an active part in the ongoing steam plant conversion project.
“Many on campus may assume that the production of steam and its related services is generally an automatic operation,” said utilities director Roy Warwick. “However, it takes a great devotion to duty, technical expertise, hard work, and long hours to provide the level of service we all receive.
“The only thing automatic at the steam plant is the team’s commitment to excellence.”
Brooke Krempa (firstname.lastname@example.org)