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Facilities opeartions specialist keyed-up on security

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MARCOA Media
Story by Kate Loftin on 09/12/2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. Facilities Operations Specialist John Clarkson considers himself a behind-the-scenes worker at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command's G-4 Sparkman Management Office (SMO), but the product of his daily tasks are front-and-center throughout the facility.

SMO personnel are charged with building management activities including mail room and loading dock operations, building maintenance and alterations, and equipment in place oversight which spans every square foot of the complex and its surrounding grounds, parking lots and service road.

"More than half of my office hours are spent away from my desk working on tasks that help keep the complex structure, and its personnel, safe and operating effectively," said Clarkson.

He began his career with the SMO in 2010. His duties includes building-access processing for employees and visitors to the Sparkman Center, as well as conducting and critiquing fire drills at the complex.

Clarkson also maintains the service records, billing and repairs for "building equipment-in-place," which includes any appliance, access gate, generator, or HVAC unit that is additionally required at the complex.

A major project, updating the Center's security, emerged following an incident at the complex.

"John is tasked with the oversight of rekeying the locks on every door within the Sparkman Center. That's more than 2,000 keys that have to be accounted for and issued. It affects every area and all personnel," said Clarkson's supervisor, Building Management Specialist Joey Smith with SMO.

"During an incident at the center, security was trying to clear this huge complex and couldn't gain access to certain areas because the doors were locked, and we didn't have an efficient means for clearing," said Clarkson. "Security procedures like having streamlined clearing capability are continually changing and improving, and we have to change with them."

Clarkson took on this project understanding his role and its overall importance to building security. He said the task can be time-consuming, especially when looking for a lost key for a door or rekeying it.

"This work is very beneficial to the security of the complex," said Clarkson. He knows well about the importance of security because he has been a member of the Force Protection Working Group at Sparkman for three years.

The focus of Clarkson's work in the group centers on random anti-terrorism measures which encompasses brainstorming possible hazardous threats and then developing safeguards against those dangers. He routinely inspects areas considered to be high-risk targets and improves any perceived weakness points.

Clarkson served four years on active duty in the U.S. Army and four additional years in the Army Reserve. His motivation and commitment to command safety and security is a big part of Clarkson's work ethics.

"John's patience, expertise and dedication to the facilities and occupants makes him invaluable to the Sparkman Management Office," said Smith. "Regardless of whether his work activities are seen."

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