Make it Better, Make it Happen

  • Published
  • By Maj. Raymond J. Elmore
  • 501st Combat Support Wing
Facility Management…Not just an additional duty. You arrive at work early in the morning, go to the entrance of your building, yanking the door open as it screeches and scrapes along the pavement and frame, then pull it shut because you know it won’t close by itself. Next, you walk past the always beeping alarm panel and proceed to fumble in the dark for a light switch at the back of the hallway, because the one by the front door stopped working months ago. Finally, you make your way to your work center where only 1 or 2 bulbs in each light fixture actually turn on.  In the dim glow of the room you log into your computer but have to keep your jacket on because the ceiling vent blows right on top of you. Once email is up and running, the urgency of the day’s work begins. The building’s problems described earlier are easily forgotten. Does this sound like your morning routine?

It is common to become desensitized to the small things that need attention in our facilities and work places. Your facility manager is key to keeping the small things small and serves as the civil engineer squadron’s first line of defense. Each facility should have a facility manager entrusted with the care, custody, and protection of the building and its occupants. With the exception of calling in emergencies; facility managers, along with commanders, are the only personnel allowed to submit work and repair requests. 

Some of the basics of facility management includes keeping areas outside of buildings clear of debris and hazards. This includes picking up litter, shoveling snow, and spreading salt on sidewalks and stairs. Additionally, they are entrusted to replace light bulbs if under 10 feet, both in and outdoors. They also receive late night calls if facilities are left unsecured after the duty day. Facility managers perform fire safety inspections and oversee their building’s shelter-in-place (SIP) programs. This includes testing emergency lights, inspecting fire extinguishers, maintaining the SIP kit, and organizing training and emergency drills to enhance the safety and readiness of all building occupants. In real world emergencies, facility managers are relied upon to warn others and help them take the proper actions. 

So what can you do and how does this apply if you’re not the facility manager? First, start by getting to know your facility manager and ask about what building problems currently exist and what work is on the horizon. Next, don’t accept the status quo - take pride in your work place!  Inform them about any problems or deficiencies you’ve noticed in and around your building. If ignored, small problems can grow to become larger issues such as fire and safety deficiencies.  Also, inform your facility manager as soon as possible if new equipment is being purchased. They can ensure installation goes smoothly by submitting requests for gas, water, sewer, and power connections to the civil engineer squadron for action. 

Other simple ways to participate include picking up trash around buildings. Many hands make light work, so offer to help clear sidewalks and handicap accessibility areas during winter weather conditions. Actively take part in training, organized by your facility manager, and help others realize the information may be key to overcoming an emergency someday. 

Armed with a better understanding of facility management, hopefully you’ll arrive at your facility and the door will open smoothly and without resistance. The fire alarm panel will be silent. Hallways and offices will be brighter than before and you’ll happily shed your coat because the temperature is just right. Fixing the small stuff matters and from the motto of my squadron, facility managers are the first step in, “Make it better, Make it happen”.