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New equipment leads to better preparedness

snow equipmentA crippling ice storm in December 2013 prompted  the facilities  department to request some new equipment to help mitigate future storms.

Below-freezing temperatures for four consecutive days and the four inches of ice on the ground created an unusual problem.

“Facilities had no equipment capable of rapidly spreading sand or ice melt chemicals and only a couple of vehicles with blades that could push snow or large piles of ice,” said David Reynolds, associate vice president for facilities.

The ice across the north Texas area caused the campus to be closed for five days, including the first half of finals week, and forced many changes to the final exam schedule.

To expedite future campus’ storm recoveries, UNT bought three John Deere utility vehicles in April 2014.

These new multipurpose vehicles are made for year-round, day-to-day use. Landscaping crews use the vehicles in their ground maintenance work, but when  inclement weather arrives, the vehicles have attachments for snow blades and sand spreaders. 

Reynolds says that every storm will require some adjustment to how the vehicles are used during inclement weather. Typically, crews will treat all the major sidewalks and one handicap accessible entrance per building first, but storms also can create other priorities that must also be addressed.

Reynolds said that while the conditions of local highways and roadways still will play the most significant role in whether the campus can be opened, “should a similar event occur again, the university will be able to respond to make sidewalks safer, faster.”

—Awo Eni, student assistant, URCM

Above, Randy Oliver, a ground maintenance mechanic, installs a new snow plow to an utility vehicle ahead of potential winter weather.  (Photo by Ahna Hubnik/URCM)

Posted on: Fri 09 January 2015

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