News

F.C. Employees Test Utility Skills in Statewide ‘Rodeo’

Last week, employees of the Falls Church Department of Public Utilities put their skills to the test in the 22nd annual Water Distribution Seminar and Utility Rodeo in Chesterfield, Va. Instead of rounding up cattle, the team members rounded up their job skills, competing against public works employees from around the state to see who could perform various civic maintenance tasks the fastest – and the safest.

Last week, employees of the Falls Church Department of Public Utilities put their skills to the test in the 22nd annual Water Distribution Seminar and Utility Rodeo in Chesterfield, Va. Instead of rounding up cattle, the team members rounded up their job skills, competing against public works employees from around the state to see who could perform various civic maintenance tasks the fastest – and the safest.

“The water distribution seminar and utility rodeo is a great opportunity for utility employees to learn new skills and best practices, network with their peers across Virginia, and engage in some friendly competition,” said Brenda Creel, director of Public Utilities.

A team made of City utility maintenance workers, utility inspectors and pump station operators took part in the seminar and rodeo – Tony Wade, Josh Goff, Jonathan Horneman, Dustin Kirby, Austin Donaldson, Janett Gagnon, Michael Powers, Chris Burke and Superintendent of Utilities Maintenance Robert Goff represented the 63-employee Falls Church department.

The department has been taking part in the rodeo for the past eight years, and team members have brought home plaques and trophies for placing in the rodeo’s events in previous years. Last year, City Utilities Inspector Josh Goff took third place in one of the events, called Splish Splash, in which participants must install a water flow control valve while the pipe is under pressure. In 2008, a team from the department placed third Rapid Tappin’, an event in which team members work together to tap ductile iron water pipes. The team placed fourth in the event at this year’s competition. The other two events of the rodeo, Buried Treasure and Meter Madness, test for locating utility lines and assembling disassembled meters, respectively.

Creel said that while the events in the rodeo closely resemble the work these employees do every day as part of their job, the team members went through an intensive two-month training program, during which their spent two hours of work time and more than six hours of personal time each week honing their skills.

Each year, potential competitors must apply to take part in the rodeo, and the team coach picks the best candidates based on that employees skills, commitment and interest, Creel said.

Aside from providing the fun of competition, the rodeo, which is sponsored by the Virginia section of the American Water Works Association, also teaches its participants about such matters as work zone safety and water distribution operations and maintenance.

“We are very proud of these employees and all of our dedicated utility staff for their commitment to excellence in operating and maintaining the City’s water system,” Creel said.