Thursday presented some of the most hazardous weather conditions seen in recent years, and Boise State students were forced to brave the ice on foot or tire.
Many schools canceled classes—excluding Boise State—and with sidewalks and parking lots presenting a serious safety concern, many departments worked together to provide the necessary labor force to keep sidewalks, entryways and parking lots slip-free.
“We have had folks from the heat plant staff and from the general maintenance staff out in conjunction with the landscape team to try and put additional people out, allow us to expand off-shift without working people twenty-four to thirty hours in a row,” said Mike Moon, Boise State’s Facilities Operations and Maintenance director.
Generally, the landscaping department handles snow and ice removal, but when faced with freezing rain of Thursday’s magnitude, they required help from other departments.
With inter-department cooperation, employees were able to work in twelve-hour shifts.
“We’re trying to get people and we were able to last night, a twelve-on twelve-off break,” Moon said on Friday.
Crews used a variety of snow and ice removal techniques. Shovels and salt were employed in conjunction with a liquid substance sprayed on surfaces to prevent and break down snow and ice.
“We use a liquid ice melt, which is a liquid calcium product that is applied from a tank on a bar,” Moon said. “We do that on a preventative basis, so if temperatures are going to drop and things start to freeze, we can put it down to prevent snow and ice from sticking to the concrete.”
Janitorial staff were also called upon to mop up slush and snow carried from the soles of shoes into the entryways of buildings.
“With this kind of weather, everything gets tracked in,” said Custodial Services manager Ivan Lybarger. “We try to get the cones out and put extra carpets out or entry matting when we have it.”
With students entering and exiting buildings all day, keeping floors mopped and dry can present a challenge for custodial staff.
“We have a small staff during the day, so they are kind of spread really thin,” Lybarger said. “They end up running from one building to the next building.”
So far, Lybarger and staff have had no reports of injuries due to slips indoors.
Students who attended classes Thursday reported having no trouble navigating campus sidewalks.
“The roads were so crazy and I nearly slid off the road going to my morning class,” said senior business student, Adam Begando. “But campus was okay.”
As the day went on and temperatures warmed, ice on roads and sidewalks had begun to melt.
“I was here later in the day,” said psychology student Kacey Gilworth. “By then, they were fine.”
With more adverse weather possible in the near future, campus staff may expect more long hours and blistered hands, all in the name of safety.