Durango experiences many stormy mornings, leaving the sidewalks covered in snow, and many students do not notice that by the time they arrive on campus, there are virtually dry sidewalks and snow removal has been taken care of before classes begin.
“If they never notice us, but arrive in the parking lot and walk to class without getting the tops of their shoes wet, then great” said Eric Lipp, a grounds supervisor at Fort Lewis College. “That means we are doing our job.”
Swift snow removal is possible because a well-structured snow removal plan organizes responsibilities between three distinct teams from the Physical Plant and custodial staff, Lipp said.
When a storm’s first snowflakes begin to fall, the FLC Police Department initiates the plan by notifying the Physical Plant.
The first crew to go out is the plow drivers who work for Labor, Trades, and Crafts. L.T.C. Physical Plant is responsible for all heavy machinery work on campus.
Once an accumulation of three inches is reached, the grounds crew is put on “call-out”, meaning that Lipp’s crew begins work at 5 a.m.
They use plow trucks, snow blowers, and shovels in a race to clean routes to classrooms by 8 a.m., Lipp said.
The first priority is to clear routes to facilities used by disabled students in morning classes. These are routes which LIpp’s team has mapped out according to these student’s schedules, he said.
There have not been any snow-related access problems for disabled students thus far, said a nurse at the FLC Health Center.
Rooftop snow loads, which can form dangerous, structurally damaging icicles, are the responsibility of the Structural Trades Department, Lipp said.
Finally, the Custodial Department is responsible for the entryways to the buildings.
The snow management plan is effective, and the crew as a whole upholds a very high standard, Lipp said.
“Look around town and you’ll see, that by 8 a.m., we have the cleanest sidewalks in town,” he said.
This year, the Grounds Crew is using a new Kubota Recreation Utility Vehicle to plow. It is equipped with a spreader used to distribute deicing pellets that are an alternative to salt.
Magnesium Chloride pellets are used on campus because they are more environmentally responsible and also very effective, he said.
Unlike salt, they do not kill grass or damage the concrete during freeze/thaw cycles, he said.