John Fellers is an Assistant Director within Environmental Health and Safety at Texas A&M University. John provides leadership and direction for EHS activities at Texas A&M campus locations remote from the main campus, to include four TAMU Health campuses, the Texas A&M Law School, and Texas A&M’s Higher Education Center campus. He also assists in providing plan review and inspections for construction projects to ensure compliance with state adopted codes and standards related to fire and life safety.
In a recent Q&A, John discussed the significance of establishing a campus safety culture and his involvement in it. Discover how John tackled the challenge of managing safety remotely, and how he fostered improved communication and collaboration with his team.
How long have you been in the position and how did you end up in campus safety?
I have been in this position for six years, in this profession for 22 years, and with the university for 25 years. I began my career in higher-ed as an electronic technician apprentice, performing maintenance on fire alarm systems. After about three years, I was made aware of an opening with the environmental health & safety office in their fire & life safety group. Moving from fire system maintenance to the fire safety compliance side of the industry was a good fit for me. I applied for the entry-level position and the rest, as they say, is history.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
The most challenging part of my role is managing programs and personnel remotely. Ensuring compliance with regulations and policies requires a hands-on approach to assessing the working environment, identifying potential hazards, and implementing safety protocols across a variety of buildings and facilities. Without the right tools in place, remote management can lead to a breakdown of communication. That’s why it’s important I make sure everyone understands the safety procedures and regulations and is actively involved in maintaining a safe working environment.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role?
As an EHS leader on a university campus, helping someone learn something new, solve a problem or do something that helps them succeed is the most rewarding part of my job. Promoting a culture of safety not only benefits the individual but the university as a whole. Passing on the knowledge, skills, and expertise built over my years here is a fulfilling experience and allows us all to contribute to the safety, growth, and well-being of TAMU, while making a positive impact on the team around me.
Why is campus safety so important?
Each and every day, students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus take part in activities that support the mission and vision of the university. Those of us in campus safety work to ensure that each individual can participate in those activities in a manner that is both safe and productive. There is so much behind the scenes that go into protecting the people, property, and reputation of our campuses. The importance of what’s involved to make that happen, and the people who make it their top priority, cannot be overstated.
Our job as campus safety professionals is to ensure the student safely learns, the researcher safely discovers, the artist safely performs, the healthcare professional safely administers care, the athlete safely competes, the fans safely cheer them on, and our leaders safely lead. That is why campus safety is so important.
How has CampusOptics helped you to improve safety at Texas A&M?
Managing programs from a distance was one of the most challenging parts of my role. CampusOptics has been the tool to ease that burden. With CampusOptics, we have been managing the fire & life safety related programs at our remote campus locations. Staff can perform inspections using the CampusOptics app on a mobile device. I can track those inspections and keep informed of any issues. We track incidents, document fire drills, and stay on top of schedules for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of our fire safety systems. These are just a few of the many ways CampusOptics is helping us do our jobs better and easing the burden of remote safety management.