No snow days for facilities team

Kyle Leonard

Facilities staff works hard to remove snow and ice after a storm hits.

While we happily sleep in after finding out we have a snow day, the Malvern facilities crew is here bright and early, working hard to make our campus safe and ready for teachers and students to come back as soon as possible.

Since Malvern is an independent school, the crew, made up of eight men, does all of the work themselves with no help from Willistown Township. Depending on the conditions, the crew plows, shovels, and blows snow off the roads and paths. They also salt the sidewalks and roadways to prevent them from icing up.

Director of Facilities Operations Mr. Jeff Kinney said that the maintenance team approaches each storm differently.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“When you get, say, six to eight inches of snow, and everything is broken down, that’s the worst thing that can happen.”

-Mr. Jim McBride[/perfectpullquote]

“Every storm is different. We approach each one according to when it’s coming and how much snow we’re anticipating; that determines when we’re going to open up,” Kinney said. “The best way to tackle the storm is with no traffic around campus, so we will plan accordingly.”

Kinney also explained that Malvern has access to a lot of great equipment to help them in their cleaning efforts.

“We use regular salt on the asphalt, and what we call a calcium mix on the sidewalks. We use spreaders [to distribute the salt], and we throw the salt by hand onto steps,” Kinney said. “We have plows that hook up to the trucks, snow blowers, a kubota [a smaller John Deere] for smaller passes that we can’t get the truck through.”

“Sometimes we even have to hire bigger machinery for bigger storms,” Kinney added.

Facilities staff member Mr. Jim McBride has the task of cleaning and readying Malvern’s winter care equipment for use.

“I’m kind of a stickler, so I always make sure that everything is ready to go before something happens,” McBride said. “When you get, say, six to eight inches of snow, and everything is broken down, that’s the worst thing that can happen.”

McBride also plays a big part in the snow and ice removal process.

“I’m usually the first guy on campus, so I go out and assess the situation and report to Jeff [Kinney]. I then help with plowing and salting the sidewalks,” McBride said.

Kinney also explained that the crew will spend as much time as needed on campus to get everything cleaned up.

“Storms occur at all different hours, so sometimes we’ll spend all night plowing,” Kinney said. “Last year, when we got that big 35 inch storm, we were basically out here for three days straight.”

Kinney also went on to say that the biggest difference maker is being able to clear the campus with no one around but the crew.

Facilities staff member Steve Lennox agrees with Kinney when it comes to keeping the campus clear and without traffic to make the cleaning process as efficient as possible.

“Even the smallest amount of snow, if it gets trampled on, it will compact and turn into ice, so we try to keep everything as clear as possible,” Lennox said.

Before working at Malvern, Lennox worked in maintenance at Eastern University in Wayne, PA, and there were times where he had to clear away snow.

“Obviously, there are dorms on college campuses, so you have to keep those open 24/7,” Lennox said. “You also have to take care of the sidewalks and the cafeteria entrance so kids can eat.”

Whether it’s high school, college, or any school, Lennox believes the goal is the same: keep everyone safe.

“The main focus is to get everything cleared as soon as possible so that teachers can do their job and students can learn safely and not worry about getting hurt,” Lennox said.