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The Quiet Resource.

Maintenance departments of these correctional facilities are "the quiet resource." Maintenance ensures that there is heat in the winter, that toilets are working, that there is hot water for showers and with the flip of a switch, the lights turn on. All of these are functions to which no one pays attention, but if one of them fails to work property, the noise becomes deafening.

Departments of correction are responsible for providing safe, secure and healthy environments for inmates, employees and the public in our nation's correctional facilities. There presently are more than 1 million inmates nationwide in correctional custody, in facilities ranging in age from brand new to 150 years old. To care for its residents, every facility's physical plant, whether new or old, must remain functional.

Maintenance departments of these correctional facilities are "the quiet resource." Maintenance ensures that there is heat in the winter, that toilets are working, that there is hot water for showers and with the flip of a switch, the lights turn on. All of these are functions to which no one pays attention, but if one of them fails to work properly, the noise becomes deafening.

The Job of the Quiet Resource

As the "quiet resource," maintenance keeps the physical plant and equipment operational. It allows staff and inmates to go about their respective takes without incident. This operation is taken for granted. Maintaining technology also is taken for granted, but intrusion alarm systems, closed-circuit television systems and control systems work because maintenance maintains them.

Facilities must be maintained but, for the most part, maintenance, money for maintenance and man power for maintenance work take a back seat to security concerns, and rightly so. However, added to maintenance concerns is the fact that resources are dwindling and there are more and more government regulations, which also increases work for maintenance. Responsibility for meeting Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, energy conservation requirements, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, hazardous waste requirements, petroleum bulk storage regulations, asbestos abatement requirements, air quality regulations, confined space regulations, and, of course, life safety and conditions of confinement policies, to name a few, fall to maintenance departments.

Planning for Success

In order to effectively manage the maintenance functions, a clear and consistent management plan should be developed. New York state, for example, provides centralized operations and maintenance oversight and support, while day-to-day work control is handled at the facility level.

The New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOGS) currently operates 70 facilities consisting of 3,585 buildings or 36.5 million square feet of maintainable space, providing housing for approximately 71,678 inmates. DOGS is the fourth-largest system in the country, behind California, Texas and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. New York has an equally large need for maintenance. The Central Office Division of Facilities Planning coordinates all physical plant activities statewide, including overseeing operations and maintenance functions. There are many important factors in the smooth operation of a physical plant.

The annual capital budget must ensure physical plant operation. Capital projects are identified based on a needs assessment or master plan for each facility planning, budgeting and seeing projects through completion. Other functions that must be budgeted for include:

* Coordinating the response of statewide physical plant emergencies by providing direction and emergency equipment as necessary;

* Reviewing and testing all new products unique to corrections;

* Providing statewide training in maintenance and operations matters;

* Operating a central clearinghouse for all physical plant problems at each institution;

* Coordinating energy conservation and lighting projects; and

* Compliance with all state and federal mandates, including both new and current regulations regarding chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) elimination, water quality, confined spaces, hazardous waste, petroleum bulk storage, stack emissions, lead abatement, asbestos abatement, air quality, OSHA requirements and ADA physical plant requirements.

Staffing patterns are developed for each facility based on its unique needs and to properly maintain the physical plant. When there are prototype facilities; a standard staffing pattern can be implemented statewide. Only at the state level can we lobby for the maintenance function, request and justify staff for facilities, and see that critical items are filled and not left vacant for inordinate periods.

Facilities must obtain significant amounts of money to perform general preventive maintenance and breakdown maintenance projects. This is a formidable task because the people who control the money tend to ignore or cut positions that monitor buildings and systems. If the lights are not out, the heat is still on and the water runs, there seems to be no need to do anything. It is all automatic, never needs any attention and only when failure occurs does the need to maintain properly surface. Even then, once the crisis is over, it often is back to business as usual -- no money for preventive maintenance or staff dedicated to keeping things in shape.

Streamlining to Increase Funds

Recent New York legislation requires all state agencies with capital assets to develop maintenance plans to protect the state's investment in capital facilities. As the first step in meeting this mandated requirement, agencies, through their budget units, are requested to provide a review of existing maintenance practices and conduct an inventory of capital facilities used to provide their services.

The Central Office of Facilities Planning has initiated a statewide program of computerized preventive maintenance, which will standardize the methods by which facilities perform maintenance. Each facility has received the necessary hardware, software and training to use the MP2 maintenance software, which will streamline and organize the work orders, equipment, inventory, purchasing and personnel functions of each maintenance department. It is hoped that MP2 will result in increased efficiency and performance of maintenance crews. In addition, the Central Office Facilities Planning group has put in place the inventory of capital facilities and gathered the existing maintenance practices required to create a uniform statewide effort to maintain 70 facilities.

Assistance must be provided to facilities through statewide direction. State and federal regulations usually require the establishment of a system to achieve standards, but each facility cannot develop its own systems for dealing with legal requirements such as ADA, energy conservation laws and petroleum bulk storage requirements. Therefore, it falls to the central office facilities planning group -- either in-house or through consultants -- to establish a system to implement the latest regulations and requirements.

Let us not forget the value of the American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation process. New York insists its physical plants meet all mandatory ACA accreditation requirements. Operations and Maintenance has a year-round commitment to the process. To manage the state's facilities more efficiently, the commissioner regionalized the state into 10 hubs of approximately seven institutions each. To efficiently disseminate information. New York holds both regional and statewide meetings with plant superintendents, maintenance supervisors and principal engineers to discuss all the issues mentioned herein, and more.

Experts in their respective fields are brought in for training in confined space, CFC training, air quality testing, electrical safety, asbestos abatement and new environmental laws. They include OSHA officials, Department of Health officers and any organization that can help the state reach its goals.

When a statewide or national problem arises, such as tuberculosis or AIDS, New York sets a statewide policy so that individual facilities have direction on what to do. Also, as new programs arise, training films are made so maintenance staff can be trained and made aware of the latest laws.

Another major area of responsibility of the Central Office Facilities Planning group is to provide around the clock emergency response to physical plant problems. The Central Office purchases equipment such as emergency generators, pumps, trailer-mounted boilers, portable kitchens and portable lights. This emergency response equipment is now located at each of the 10 hubs. The office also prepares emergency plans for water shortages, sewage and power outages.

The emergency equipment is maintained, periodically exercised and available for movement to any facility that requires assistance. Central Office Facilities Planning provides the equipment and money for the preventive maintenance service and training for the host facility so they can respond quickly and appropriately to electrical, heat, water and sewage problems.

This equipment also has been used to provide alternate sources of energy during asbestos abatement projects, transformer replacement of rehabilitation projects, and has greatly reduced the costs of such projects.

Another important statewide issue is equipment. Equipment is hard to come by but needed for programs such as confined space activities, air quality testing, asbestos abatement, noise levels and light levels. Realizing how tight budgets, are, New York has regionalized this type of equipment. It can sell programs to control agencies on the basis that it doesn't need 70 items of each, but just 10 (one per hub). With this approach, control agencies develop faith in the department and it is slightly easier to sell them on budget requests.

The most recognized part of corrections is security, and rightly so, but we should remember that security forces need support. Without the "quiet resource," security forces would have a more difficult task.

Francis J. Sheridan, AIA, is director of the Division of Facilities Planning and Development for the New York State Department of Correctional Services. Keith D. Rupert, P.E., is supervisor of technical services in the Division of Facilities Planning and Development of the New York State Department of Correctional Services.
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Article Details
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Author:Sheridan, Francis J.; Rupert, Keith D.
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2000
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