As part of OCWA’s monthly series highlighting some of our dedicated employees and the important jobs they perform, this month we’re featuring Chris F. from our Distribution Department. Each month we’re asking a different employee a series of ten questions about his/her background, what he/she does at OCWA and some of the employee’s most interesting work experiences.
1. What is your current position at OCWA?
I am an Assistant Water Maintenance Supervisor.
2. What other jobs have you held, both OCWA and non-OCWA positions?
Before OCWA, I worked at Bat-Con as a laborer and pipe layer, putting in main water lines. I started at OCWA as a Laborer. As soon as I obtained my CDL license, I moved up to be a Water Maintenance Worker 1. I also filled in as a leak locator, which turned into my becoming a locator for leak detection for six years. I then became a crew leader and took the Civil Service test for the supervisor position. I became an assistant supervisor about 4 years ago.
3. When did you join OCWA, and what brought you here?
I joined OCWA in 2002. I was starting a family and working construction with Bat-Con involved many out of town traveling jobs. I was looking for local, steady job and OCWA provided me with that opportunity.
4. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I typically start out in the office, prepping jobs for the crew, getting their work together for the day. I make sure we have correct personnel and materials for the job. I oversee leak detection, so I check in with them for any emergencies or urgent matters that need to be attended to. During the day, I check in on the crews and get jobs prepped and do scheduling for the week. I also come into the office to confer with our Engineering Department about the various projects we’re working on together. I take phone calls from the locators in the field, and if they have any questions or issues on mapping, I help out with that. I also often times act as a middle man between engineering and the crew workers.
Finally, I’m a member of Dig Safely New York, which is a committee of different utility companies that meets monthly to resolve issues with people digging and various damages.
5. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Passing on knowledge to others. I think its really rewarding when I’m able to teach a new skill to somebody and they then do it on their own. Also, when we resolve a difficult issue, such as finding a difficult leak and repairing it, there is a rewarding sense of accomplishment.
6. What has been your favorite type of project at OCWA?
Marking out valves along significant OCWA rights-of-way. This work consisted of researching valve sketches, designing signage and getting it created. We also had to mark all the major line valves from Otisco Lake into the City of Syracuse. I enjoyed these projects because we worked at our own pace and it was a very beneficial project. It made finding valves easier and much more efficient from then on. I’ve been on the other side as a leak detector so I know how difficult it can be at times. I also think leak detection and repair are interesting projects because you get to use technology to make these jobs easier.
7. Before working at OCWA, what was the most interesting/unusual job you’ve ever had?
I worked for the property maintenance company that bid to work on Woodstock in ’99. It was our job to try to keep things tidy. We had to cleanup and pick up the grounds and saw a lot of interesting things.
8. What three words best describe you?
Hardworking, efficient, caring
9. What is your educational background?
I have a regent’s diploma from Marcellus high school, then went on to the University of Maine where I played football. I then transferred to University of Buffalo. From there I transferred to OCC and started working in construction.
10. Why did you select the career you are in?
I was going to go for engineering because I liked the idea of creating and making things better. However, I didn’t want to be in the office, I wanted to be more of a technician. I always liked being outdoors and I think this kind of work is rewarding, because you get out of it what you put in. There are also good people to work with here.