“We’re only open weekends here at the Club,” says Bob Adams, Lifts Manager at The Hermitage Club, VT, “so every day we’re open is pretty much a busy day”.
On one such busy weekend, of the Club’s five lifts, the 1984’s Poma fixed-grip triple came to a quick standstill.
The stop was a phase loss, an electrical glitch. “But when we hit reset, that’s when we smelled the smoke”. There was a fire in the high voltage panel in the terminal’s motor room. ” It was a Bic-sized flame”, says Bob, “but not a good situation at all. It’s not every day that you use a fire extinguisher in a terminal”. The heated up old wiring, dust, and corrosion made a lot of smoke. Its appearance was pretty concerning.
Bob Adams, Lifts Manager, Hermitage Club.
This is the day your lift operators and maintenance staff train for. “Even our less experienced staff handled it well. Some didn’t even understand what was happening but followed protocol as instructed. There was an element of instinct that kicked in and we maintained our composure. We stopped loading and cleared the terminal area and got everyone off the lift within 30 minutes safely.
“When you have a finicky old drive you should have two things; a good stock of parts and support people who have a lot of experience with aged systems. “Fortunately, we had the lift back up in 24 hours. [From a management point of view] “I felt like everything went well, everyone fell into place and performed as expected of them”. Then there are decisions to make – replace the drive? – do major upgrades?
About Bob: Bob has spent 13 years in the ski industry, 4 years at The Hermitage Club. Originally from South Jersey, the first place he skied in VT was Haystack in 1999. He thought he knew what cold was until he worked one month as a lift operator at Mt. Snow. He has a lot of sympathy for lift operators.
Dennis Bills and Hank Darlington have been his mentors for whom he is grateful. And about his Lifts Manager position at The Hermitage? “There is always something new,” says Bob. “One hour I’m a guidance counselor, another I’m a coach, another hour goes by and I’m back as a lift mechanic.”