May Day! NOAA Staff Keep Facility Running

June 2019

ChillerWhen it rains, it pours! Our amazing staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Suitland, MD knows this feeling well after a wave of issues at the mission-critical facility in May.

It all began Sunday, May 18, when staff couldn't get the building automation system up. After trying several methods to get the system running, it was determined that the server failed. JR Faunce, Project Manager, and his team worked with the GSA and Johnson Controls to get the issue resolved. "When you can't see what is going on in the building, it's nerve wracking," JR explains. It took until Friday, May 24, but the team got the system set up and running.

Two days after the BAS failed, on Tuesday, May 20, Elevator 4 failed. Despite having a service contract with Schindler Group, JR was told that the faulty part was now obsolete and, therefore, they would need to retrofit it, which would cost $20,000-30,000. JR investigated the specifications and was able to track down the obsolete part in Tennessee for only $2,000. When he presented it to Schindler Group, they did another inspection on the elevator and realized that the screen plug in the hydraulic valve was clogged. They brought a new part on Thursday, May 22 and replaced it. "If we went along with the retrofit, the elevator would still be down now," says JR.

The excitement continued on Friday, May 24, when Chiller #2 failed. The technician from Daiken told JR that the chiller was no longer under warranty and the cost to fix it would be $30,000-40,000. "We dug out the warranty and found that we have a corporate warranty until 2020," says JR. Although the chiller repairs are still ongoing, JR notes that it would have been much worse had he not discovered the warranty oversight: "We would still be waiting on the GSA to give us the go ahead for the work."

During this time, the team had planned repairs for generators 1, 2 and 3. On May 30, the team replaced the batteries and cooling hoses, but when they started them back up, Generator #3 would not produce voltage. JR and his team worked with the Government to okay the purchase of a new regulator. By the 31st, the generator was up and running!

"It's incredible how many challenges our team faced in just two short weeks," Reed Tarkington, President, states. "I am so thankful to our team for their ability to keep a cool head and solve each problem as they occurred."

JR jokes, "I don't think it's that amazing. I've been here 14 years; Ten years ago, I would have been under a lot of anxiety, but now it is kind of exciting to take on these challenges."

JR touts the help of his crew for being able to keep the facilities up continually running. "I have to thank my entire team, especially Tyler Faunce [Facility Service Supervisor] and Chris Grundy [Electrician]," JR says. "And Tracie Willett [Secretary III], she is behind the schedules and doesn't get enough credit. If I didn't' have her doing her job, I probably couldn't do my job."

Thank you to JR and the entire crew at NOAA for your hard work and amazing dedication. It is thanks to you that NOAA can continue its important work each day!