The FSG Blog

News & Insights

The latest company updates, industry news, and expert analysis from FSG.

When “Leaving the Lights On” Gets Ridiculous

A recent NBC News report brought attention to problems with the lighting in a Massachusetts High School.  Since 2021, more than 7,000 lights have been on non-stop following a software failure within the lighting control system at Minnechaug Regional High School.

The high school’s troubles even made their way into a humorous “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live. But, school administrators in Wilbraham, Massachusetts are finding it hard to laugh about wasted energy and higher operating costs over the past 17 months. 

Tough circumstances do arise, accidents do indeed happen, and sometimes systems fail for all types of reasons.  The good news in this story is that the school’s lighting controls included a “fail-on” functionality that kept classrooms and cafeterias out of the dark over the last year and a half.

The bad news for school administrators, teachers, students, and parents, whose taxes pay for public school facilities, is that the problems brought on by a software crash in August 2021 did not have to stretch out as long as they have.

A software error caused the lighting system to crash and the school had trouble contacting the original installer of the system.
Source: iStock

Insert Every “Excuse” Joke Here

In Wilbraham, the initial problem was easy enough to understand.  Software failures, like the one that disabled the lighting control system at Minnechaug Regional High School, along with malware and ransomware attacks are no longer rare and unforeseen events.

In our modern age, secure building automation systems like the ones FSG Smart Buildings provides are a normal and accepted requirement for proper facility management.  But back in 2012, when the school’s lighting system was installed, the network security protocols were undoubtedly less robust than they would be ten years later.

But make no mistake about it: the reason this story makes national news and gets laughed about on comedy shows is because of the cascading flow of excuses that have kept the lights on non-stop since August 2021.

The software issue was a shame.  The excuses after the fact have crossed over into sham territory.

FSG – No Excuses, Only Solutions

Now, we will be careful here and note that there were probably a good number of people working really hard to fix the lights in Wilbraham.  Surely there were.  Maybe that was the problem?  Too many cooks in the kitchen?

In fairness, we cannot say for sure what took so long.  What we can say is that we would never let a customer endure a lighting problem for 18 months.  Never.  

When a lighting system issue arises at your facility, it should never take 18 months to fix. Never.
Source: iStock

We would have FSG techs driving in from New York, California, Florida, and Texas if that’s what it took to make things right for a customer in Massachusetts.

We would have been in touch with the leading lighting manufacturers, leveraging our 40-year relationships to find a fast solution for Minnechaug Regional High School.  If a workaround was called for, we would have created one.

We would deliver a working solution because our customers’ success is what we are in business to provide.  FSG can help facility owners in many ways, but in the end, we only provide one service: lasting value, with no excuses.  

Begin Planning NOW for the Summer Break

One way to make sure your school’s lighting performs reliably – and your campus stays out of the national news – is to focus on summer breaks to complete needed work on campus lighting systems. Act now to make sure this summer includes some proactive facility maintenance at your school.

Take advantage of empty hallways and cafeterias and get the crews and equipment you need to attend to hard-to-reach places.  Think about combining simple, low-cost projects with bigger projects and getting more done over the summer break.  

And if a full-scale lighting upgrade project is in your school’s future, consider a commercial-grade lighting audit from a certified lighting professional this summer to get that ball rolling.  

FSG can help with all of these types of projects and more!  FSG is the AEPA contract holder for educational building LED lighting products. Visit our website to see how we can provide access to products from major manufacturers and provide turnkey services, all at competitive pricing for members of the AEPA Co-op. 

FSG is also partnered with the BuyBoard purchasing co-op. The BuyBoard National Purchasing Cooperative is an online purchasing cooperative formed between the National School Boards Association and several state school board associations to streamline the buying process for schools, municipalities, and other public entities.

Let FSG be your school’s partner in all the facility projects you want to see completed before the kids return to class at the end of the summer.  Call us today at (877) 293-6689 or visit our website to find out about lighting audits, individual lighting products, or building control systems.

For school facility managers tasked with maintaining campus buildings, not just over the summer, but all year long, don’t forget to visit FSG Storefront, our online store for the products you need at your school.

Related Articles