Ingenuity solves flag safety problem
Raising and lowering the flag atop the Thorvaldson Building used to be dangerous business but now, thanks to the ingenuity and talent of a couple of University employees, it’s as easy as flipping a switch.
Credit for the new flag raising system goes to electrician Dale Galenzoski from the maintenance department of Facilities Management Division (FMD), and Henry Berg who works in the College of Engineering’s electronics and machine shop. Between them, they designed, built and installed a mechanism that addresses a very real safety concern.
In the mechanical room on the top floor of Thorvaldson, Galenzoski explained the flag is lowered to half-mast regularly to acknowledge the deaths of University community members, and it is replaced annually. That used to mean climbing a narrow staircase to the roof, crossing the roof to a ladder on the side of the flagpole tower, and, once at the top, climbing another three wooden steps at the base of the pole in order to adjust the flag.
It was not an especially pleasant or safe trip, said Galenzoski, “especially when it’s 40 below and the wind is blowing.”
No existing flag raising and lowering system could be found, so Galenzoski and Berg created one. The biggest challenge was running the flag cable down from the pole to the control panel in the mechanical room. That involved drilling blind straight up through five inches of concrete, a half-inch steel plate and almost three inches of cast metal into the center of the pole. Galenzoski measured carefully and hit the mark on the first try.
The cable is connected to an electric winch and pulley system activated at the control panel built by Berg, he explained. And while the mechanical room might be a bit noisy, it’s certainly warmer, dryer and safer than adjusting the flag while on the roof of Thorvaldson.