With the start of fall term, the Corvallis campus is livelier than it has been for months. While 95% of courses are being delivered remotely, a small number of lab-based and fieldwork classes are held in person.  Facilities Services and ABM, Oregon State's custodial contractor, were instrumental in getting campus buildings and classrooms ready for fall term.

Facilities Services has installed hand sanitizer stations in the front entrance of every campus building, and has installed wall-mounted sanitizer stations in the classrooms that have in-person classes scheduled. In many of the classrooms, Facilities Services staff has rearranged or taped off seating to promote physical distancing and new cleaning protocols have been adopted by ABM, in line with CDC and EPA guidelines. Facilities Services, with the help of student employees and ABM, were well on the way to completing the classroom modifications in time for fall classes to begin.

Then the smoke and ash from the fires north and east of Corvallis began pouring into the Willamette Valley.

"We had everything all under control," explains Joe Majeski, the director of facilities services on the Corvallis campus. Then came the smoke and ash. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems on campus buildings were strained from filtering ash out of outside air. This necessitated shutting down HVAC systems in many buildings, which lead to the Corvallis campus being closed from Sept. 9 -16.

Facilities Services was then asked to help stage an evacuation site at Reser Stadium for Oregonians affected by the fires.

"Things got a little bit busy around here," Majeski admits.

Facilities Services staff swung into action, helping set up critical functions in the Reser Stadium parking lot to assist wildfire evacuees if needed. Eighty-five families were served at the Benton County Fairgrounds, and the wildfire response location at Reser Stadium was ultimately not needed.  Facilities Services managed the disassembly of the evacuation site, including removing barriers, signage and sanitation facilities.

"The fast and efficient setup and teardown of this emergency response was great practice for future emergency events on campus," says Majeski.

While the staging of the evacuation site was happening, other Facilities Services staff and student employees worked hard to clean ash from air intake areas and change pre-filters in building HVAC systems. Within five days, every pre-filter had been changed out.

"Over 3,000 pre-filters, which in reality is four weeks’ worth of work, were changed in less than a week," explained Bruce Daley, Associate Vice President for University Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations. "Facilities Services really went above and beyond." Daley credits the excellent planning and execution of Facilities Services which enabled the significant and immediate response.

~ Erin Martin