The city Department of Environmental Protection is training its employees inside a new state-of-the-art facility in Queens that keeps them safe while exposing them to real street challenges. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
City Department of Environmental Protection Field Operations Manager Bill Maggiulli could be seen raising a catch basin grate Wednesday as he explained the process to a group of fellow DEP employees. It's a different type of training than he experienced in his 28 years working for the city.
"When I came up through the ranks we didn't have a training, it was pretty much you got into the crew and you learned from the guy next to you," recalls Maggiulli.
The DEP has created a city street inside a lot on 180th Street in Jamaica, Queens. There are live water mains, fire hydrants, plus the vehicles used for cleaning catch basins and flushing out sewers. Newer workers and veteran laborers and supervisors have been training there since May.
"What we're able to do is train folks in a way that's safe and secure, but also true to what they are going to find on the streets," says DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.
For some veterans of the department, the cross training effort is introducing them to a skill they haven't had a chance to try in awhile since they specialize in other areas in the water and sewer system.
"A lot of these guys have gone through the apprenticeship program maybe 15 years ago, so they used some of this equipment 15 years ago, a lot of the rules and stuff have changed, a lot of the regulations and policies have changed," Maggiulli says.
"Longtime DEP workers say when it come to learning a new skill or getting a refresher course, they like the idea of doing it in this environment.
"It's a lot safer and it's a great learning environment," says DEP Field Operations Supervisor Chris Creamer.
Creamer, who has 30 years with the department, points out he would rather learn on the mock course than on the corner of 42nd Street and Second Avenue any day.