Spotlight Projects

  • Wax Stays Steady Despite Heat

    Oct 14, 2020

    During an emergency Marlo Wax reacted quickly, saving herself; the lives and safety of students, faculty, and staff; and university grounds and buildings.

    Wax works daily to collect waste from buildings across campus, including student housing facilities. On September 28, Wax was making her rounds, finding herself outside of Scott Hall and used her front-loader to pick up an 8-yard front-loading trash can. During the load-in process, some of the bags from the can toppled over onto the truck’s exhaust, which sits just behind the driver’s seat. The heat from the exhaust mixed with some of the refuse, which may have included oil or other flammable items, and almost immediately caught on fire, sending flames shooting skyward.edit_DSC0515

    The truck fire was near a large tree, which rose above the ground near the windows of Scott Hall, something Wax thought could cause danger to students if limbs and leaves were to catch on fire.

    “I first noticed the smoke coming into the cabin and knew something was wrong,” Wax said. She immediately radioed to her supervisor Dan Hiser and the pair determined to get the truck out of the way of students and other university facilities. Wax drove the truck to Lot 31, a nearby grass lot just west of Memorial Stadium and unloaded the flaming garbage onto the ground to ensure no further danger to her and others and no more damage to the truck.

    While Hiser informed the fire department of the situation, another F&S driver who overheard her call, Jeff Myers, responded, too, driving himself to Lot 31 to help Wax put out the flames with his truck’s fire extinguisher, while they waited for emergency personnel to put out the last burning embers. Operating Engineers and Laborers helped secure the area and get rid of the burned trash.

    Wax was proud of her colleagues for assisting her during a time in need, but also her ability to react quickly to ensure the safety of university students and facilities: “I just thought to stay cool, keep your head, and get the truck out of there. Just stay aware of the truck and your surroundings.”

  • Uniform Shirts to be Worn by F&S Frontline Staff

    Aug 18, 2020

    Dear Colleagues,

    Beginning Monday, August 31, F&S frontline staff will start wearing a uniform shirt while preforming service and project work. This new Illini Blue attire will emphasize the unit’s role as the caretaker for the university’s physical environment by presenting a consistent visual appearance on campus that reflects the professionalism of our team while contributing to proactive university security efforts.


    The shirts will also be labeled with each employee’s name and feature the block I. The apparel will aid in our ongoing customer-focused COVID-19 response strategies, allowing you to better identify and interact with F&S employees during the return to on-site instruction. 

    F&S dress guidelines have always focused on the importance of maintaining a professional appearance as a representative of our organization and the university. As a means to help achieve our strategic objective of furthering engagement with the campus community and especially during this vital period, the new shirts will strengthen F&S’ commitment to being a responsive and highly valued service provider while highlighting the unit’s vast expertise and capabilities.


    Dr. Mohamed Attalla, MBA, P.Eng.
    Executive Director, Facilities & Services
  • Shop Spotlight: Steam Distribution

    Aug 04, 2020
    The Steam Distribution operators may be one of the most unique jobs on campus with responsibilities that deserve more recognition.Steam tunnels
    Despite what their name suggests, they deal with more than just hot water vapor.
    The team’s primary objectives each day are to provide a safe and comfortable work environment for research, classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, and spaces for students to learn and staff to work. Operators provide service delivery in two main areas, mechanical and utility systems. Mechanical systems include components with moving parts; utility systems involve steam, natural gas, water, and electrical components.
    As the “eyes and ears of campus,” Steam Distribution checks on all alarms after normal working hours and respond to facility systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
    “Our team of operators are often at work when most people are in bed asleep,” said Steam Distribution foreperson Bill Conner. “They are at work during weekends, evenings, night shifts, and holidays.”
    “This team is not just a set of generalists,” said Dave Boehm, associate director for Operations, Maintenance, & Alterations, Building Maintenance. “They are highly-skilled operational individuals who may be better described as ‘field operators’ for utilities, infrastructure, and all buildings on campus. They are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable individuals you will ever meet when it comes to operating the campus, essentially a small city, where it involves utility distribution, gas pipeline operations, building operations, and system operations.
    “Operators can address multiple issues and then bring in helpful team members from other shops to further repair the most difficult tasks.Steam blow
    “Basically, if it is any component, system, or sub-assembly, they know what it should be doing and how to deal with it,” Boehm said.
    Conner is proud of his team and looks forward with confidence.
    “Every day, we challenge ourselves to make it a better day than the one before,” Conner said. “We want to ensure the campus is happy over and over again. Whatever it is, we are up for it. We are always trying to make sure campus functioning safely. We’ve got to keep it going.”
    Full steam ahead!