Fleet Department Makes Sure Hundreds of Vehicles Run Smoothly
By David A. F. Sweet The City of Lake Forest Fleet Section supplies vehicles and equipment to Police, Fire, Streets & Sanitation and Parks & Forestry, among other departments. It maintains and repairs vehicles and equipment and modifies them or refurbishes them when it is economically sensible to do so. Fleet deals with about 250 vehicles.
Department Head Ron Gramer described in greater detail what the Fleet Section focuses on during an interview with Lake Forest Love: What sets the Fleet Section apart from working in a basic mechanic shop? The City’s Fleet team works on a wide range of equipment, such as snow plowing and ice control equipment, mowers, dredger, fire trucks, chippers, street sweepers, packer/recycling trucks, a Vactor truck, squad cars and more. Another skill the team offers is the engineering, welding and fabrication work. This talent allows the team to perform a variety of custom work to expand the use and efficiency of equipment we already possess.
The Fleet crew is always ready to perform whatever work is needed on City of Lake Forest vehicles. And then there is the specialized Emergency Vehicle Technician certifications the mechanics have, which enables them to perform repairs on emergency vehicles in-house. This saves a considerable amount of financial resources as well as downtime by not having to send equipment out for service.
How does the Fleet Section make sure vehicles are always in top-notch condition? All vehicles are tracked by miles or hours each time they dispense fuel and are entered into management-tracking software. Everything is maintained at factory-recommended intervals. Operator-observed defects are reported via computer or paper write-ups, and all commercial vehicles operators file pre- and post-trip inspection reports. What is the biggest part of the Fleet Section's budget dedicated to? Fleet’s operating budget is devoted to vehicle maintenance and repair. There are separate capital replacement budgets for replacement of vehicles. What's the biggest change you've seen in the vehicles the Fleet Section have operated in the last decade? The complexity of vehicle monitoring and operating systems. Everything still has mechanical components doing the work, but now it’s all monitored and controlled by electronics. Also, the addition of diesel-emission aftertreatments has added another aspect to the complexity of the skills the modern technician has to master. What has been the Fleet Section’s experience with electric vehicles? We have piloted some with mixed success and currently have one electric vehicle (EV) and two hybrids. The industry is going in that direction, but supply-chain issues and manufacturing setbacks have stalled the availability of EVs for work vehicles. With all vehicle replacements, we are looking at all EV options and monitoring the industry continually for sustainable solutions.