Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Filters and Fountains

The foundations of the President's house, as seen from below
during a filter change
Changing a water pump
Last week was my second with the maintenance division here at Independence. The first week was spent with the grounds, custodial, and motor vehicles as they were preparing for the fourth of July festivities. I weeded the garden outside of the liberty bell, set up barricades, visited the maintenance and garage facilities, among many other things. This week I was stationed with the Buildings and Utilities Branch. B&U is responsible for the upkeep of the buildings in the park as well as the various heating, cooling, and electrical systems. They also do woodwork, masonry, and painting when the need arises. They are, as you can imagine, a busy group of guys.

Each member of the Utilities staff is very skilled in many different areas, and they are all capable of handling nearly every job that comes up at the park. For example, when shadowing the Park's Electrician, Jeff, I helped to: clean a fountain, dig holes for electrical covers, replace the head on a street lamp outside of Franklin Court, clean a different fountain, and hook up and place a water pump, all in a day and a half. The needs of the park are varied, common, and urban, and maintenance workers have to be equipped to handle all of them, single-handed if need be.

One of the most important needs of the park is the air filter systems. Most of the historical buildings have their own climate control systems for the sake of preservation. The air filters for the systems have to be replaced fairly regularly and as such this is a common job for utilities. I went along with utility member William to replace one such set of filters in the basement of the Independence Hall block.

Part of the maze under Independence Hall
All of the buildings on the block use one space to house most of their utilities, which means air, water, electricity, etc. for five buildings are packed into a relatively small space. The result is an elaborate maze of pipes, ducts, and wires that is impressive to say the least. It was very cool (if very cramped) to get to walk around down there, like being in a thoroughly planned out cave. I also got to see an example of how multi-talented the people in Maintenance are, as a routine filter change turned into a repair of an air pump and greasing of a motor, which were all handled by William.

The people in maintenance were very hardworking and incredibly talented, and I gained a lot of appreciation for what they do in my two weeks there.

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