Salisbury Rowan Utilities workers win vehicle safety award for third year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SALISBURY — Salisbury Rowan Utilities has received the City Manager’s Safety Award for Vehicle Safety for the third consecutive year.
In 2013 alone, employees in the utility’s Systems Maintenance Division and Meter Services Division traveled more than 205,000 miles to safely provide water services to more than 52,000 customers in eight municipalities and unincorporated portions of Rowan County.
Earlier this month, Salisbury City Manager Doug Paris awarded these two divisions the City Manager’s Safety Award for Vehicle Safety.
Maintaining a water distribution system that safely provides about 9 million gallons of water each day is no simple feat, city spokeswoman Elaney Hasselmann said in a news release.
The Systems Maintenance Division oversees 437 miles of piping and 3,000 fire hydrants, which require regular monitoring and maintenance. This division maps and maintains an up-to-date database of the utility’s entire inventory.
Fire hydrant location maps are used by fire department personnel on the scene of fires and provide accurate detail that helps provide accurate fire control measures. Additionally, the division also supports fire line maintenance throughout the system that helps with fire suppression through sprinkler systems in commercial buildings.
Ten employees in the Meter Service Division collect data from more than 22,000 meters every month, visiting more than 18,500 residents and businesses in a 30-day period. Through snow, sleet, rain or shine, meter readers in this division tackle various obstacles from overgrown grass to aggressive animals on a regular basis as they complete their daily routes, Hasselmann said.
During his award presentation, Paris noted the professionalism displayed by the men and women in these divisions and complimented their achievement and improvement in the area of vehicular safety during the past several years. He credited their continuous dedication to their jobs.
Paris also mentioned mutual aid during recent weather events when crews citywide, including these two divisions, worked around the clock clearing roadways and hauling snow in an effort to provide safe travel for citizens.
According to city Risk Manager Richard Kelly, during the past 10 years, these divisions have reduced their accident rate by 85 percent, which is a significant achievement for two divisions that cover a wide range of territory.
“There is a great level of exposure to being involved in an accident, particularly in congested or areas of restriction such as less than favorable weather conditions, where Salisbury Rowan Utilities employees are required to work, often operating oversized pieces of equipment in confined spaces,” Kelly said.
Mike West, systems maintenance manager for Salisbury Rowan Utilities, said he is proud of the staff.
“They work hard to maintain the utility infrastructure throughout our service district in all weather conditions, day and night,” West said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.