Behind the scenes, facility dispatchers keep the lights on (and the pipes working) at Syracuse University


There aren’t many jobs on the Syracuse University campus where the office cheat sheet includes things like “clogged toilet”, “hot desk”, “broken garbage disposal” and ” configuration of a quad event. “

The Facilities Services Dispatch team includes Eileen Simmons, Director of Operations, and Dispatchers Laurie Poirier, Michelle Grosso, Vickie Crawford, Vernessa Honor and Melissa Stocking.

The list of potential incidents is at least 10 pages long and growing, judging by the cramped handwriting in the margins of the pages. The minor disasters and major emergencies of a bustling campus are part of the daily lives of the five facilities service dispatchers – Melissa Stocking, Vickie Crawford, Vernessa Honor, Laurie Poirier and Michele Grosso – who work in an office on the second floor on Ainsley Drive. Poirier, the oldest of them, has been at the University for 42 years and two are relative beginners, having only been at the University for a few years.

Students, faculty, and staff contact all facility departments when something needs to be fixed. They call, email, or submit a request through an online form. The dispatchers are at the reception of each request. Over the years, they have learned to be prepared to hear anything when they answer the phone. as water gushes out of a broken pipe. A recent trip to their desks to listen to their work revealed the immense amount of behind-the-scenes work that it takes to keep the University running smoothly.

After a phone call from a staff member at Falk College, the radio dispatch came out:

“Could you go see Falk and help out in the dean’s office?” “

At the other end of the radio call are various workers, “trades” and “shops” in office lingo. These are the University’s plumbers, electricians, HVAC and maintenance staff, spread across campus to take turns solving each problem. It is an operation which, quite literally, keeps the lights on at the University.

Each service request gives rise to a work order, an entry in the installation monitoring system directing the work of the craftsmen. The sound of the work order printer rarely stops, as the commands “broken window, second floor bathroom, Shaw Hall” “Flashing lights won’t stop – private dinner, Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center Are pouring in via email, phone calls, and their online form.

“Squeaky door, could you hit that with WD-40?” ”

Their job involves constant triage – it’s important to clean up vomit in a bathroom on the fifth floor, but it will get behind a burst pipe, broken glass, or whatever can cause harm to people or property.

This is what they find so difficult about their jobs – they want to be able to tell the voices on the other end of the phone that their problem will be resolved quickly, but sometimes that just isn’t the case. Sometimes the peeling paint will have to wait a few hours for it to be cured.

“Not everything is an emergency,” explains Eileen Simmons, operations manager for Facilities Services, who oversees dispatchers. “Unfortunately, sometimes we need to tell staff or faculty that their issue is an emergency on campus, and we will address their concerns as quickly as possible.”

At any one time, there are only a limited number of workers available to solve problems, and several may be sent together to deal with a crisis. During this time, the calls follow one another.

A slow month, in the summer after the majority of students have left for the year, could see about 1,000 calls to the office. In a busy month, like August 2021, that number will increase to over 2,500 calls, or about 85 per day.

The joy in their work comes from knowing that they are making a difference on campus. Sometimes they even coached students through rudimentary life skills classes, like the time Grosso spent 20 minutes on the phone with a student, teaching him how to use a plunger.

“Sometimes I feel like a mother to these students,” she says. “This is what I would like someone to do for my child, so this is how I feel for the students calling us.”

Tips for calling facility services to report a problem

The five department staff collectively offer some recommendations for reporting to Facilities Services. The best way to resolve your problem quickly is to have the following information handy:

  1. The name of the building where the problem occurred. This is a big deal on the south campus, where they frequently answer calls from students who may only know the name of the street they live in, but not the number of the building or apartment. .
  2. The room number or room number closest to the problem.
  3. Your full name
  4. The best phone / cell number to reach you
  5. Describe the problem as precisely as possible

Call Facilities Services anytime to report a problem at 315.443.1234. Applications can also be submitted through their website – just select the form that best meets your needs.

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