Who you gonna call?

October 24, 2019

Is your office too cold or hot, or perhaps the ceiling is leaking? Don’t panic — help is just a phone call, email, or workorder away. The friendly staff of FACOPS are available 24/7 to assist. Officially called the Facilities’ Services Operations Center, FACOPS is more generally known around campus as the customer service call center. Either way, they are a busy group.

Left to right Andrew Sauer and Jim Roos work the second shift. Missing from photo Keith Hall & Peter Stanish.

The main command center resembles an emergency dispatch area with lots of blinking monitors, humming computers, ringing phones, and a 1980s-era, 2-way radio console. While impressive, it takes people to run all that equipment. The amazingly helpful staff are easy-going, upbeat, and always have candy and snacks at the ready that they willingly share.

What the average Yalie doesn’t know is that FACOPS is much more than just a ‘call center.’ Over three shifts, this hardworking team of 20, manages two main phone lines: one for facilities-based emergency calls and the other for general heating and cooling issues. They review, adjust, and triage any online generated tickets. Another responsibility includes monitoring the building automatization system (BAS) for equipment alarms—no small task.

From left to right, Dave Lyons, Mike Simon, William Tsoukalas, Jr., Marcus Hayes, & John Kocot are the 3rd shift staff.

Across campus, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and other utility systems for water flow, sewage pumps, or lighting are tied to computer software. If any of these systems stop functioning, or their parameters go awry, an alarm gets channeled to the command center. When an alarm discharges, the team jumps into action identifying the building and room. Next, they try to make an adjustment remotely through the BAS system. If that doesn’t work, they dispatch a mechanic, plumber, or custodian to diagnose and fix the problem. To dispatch the maintenance person, FACOPS generates an electronic work request ticket (EWR) that routes directly to a department-provided iPod. “We handle calls ranging from no toilet paper to major building disasters,” said Bruce Bellmore, manager, Customer Support Services.

We handle calls ranging from no toilet paper to major building disasters. Bruce Bellmore

Then comes the followup. Sometimes the issue can be as simple as discovering someone forgot to close a window, resulting in adjusted room temperatures. After diagnosing or fixing the issue, a Facilities team member will call either the space occupant or manager to discuss, and then close the EWR. The FACOPS’ staff provides support to over 300 buildings between the three campuses, leased properties, and the athletic fields. “We monitor alarms, ticketing, set HVAC schedules for each building, control lighting, and monitor all building systems,” said Jerry Irizarry.

While the team receives building maintenance calls, they often get unusual requests. “We get a fair amount of IT related calls, like someone’s computer isn’t working. Those get triaged to the IT Help Desk. Also, we get calls about city street lights or sidewalks, often we will contact the City of New Haven for the individual or will direct them. “In the spring as the students move out, we get calls requesting help cutting bike locks. While we don’t cut locks, we are happy to get the students help,” said Jerry Irizarry.

A little history

During the 1980’s, the University had a much smaller ‘call and control center.’ Back then, the phone rang a lot more; email or online requests were non-existent—paper workorders came through fax. Like the modern-day FACOPs, they managed a much smaller building automation system. At that time, a majority of requests were to repair leaky roofs, particularly after a rainstorm.

Sometime in the 1990s, the center was split in two separating the customer call center from the building control center.  In 2012, these two groups merged again and moved into their current space at 344 Winchester.

HUGE THANKS to this team that helps to keep the university humming!

Meet the FACOPS team.