• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Google+
  • Share via Email
Public Works Week: Fleet Services Spotlight 
By Nick Bradshaw
Deputy Director of Fleet Services |

City FLeet Shop

For one week in May every year – May 20-26 this year – Public Works Departments across the State and across the nation have the opportunity to brag about all of the important work that we do. For a group of people who are accustomed to working in the background and getting things done behind the scenes, this sort of self-advocacy does not always come naturally. Public Works Week exists to give these hardworking people an opportunity and a spotlight to talk about their work and about why Public Works is so important.

“Public Works” is a broadly defined term that typically encompasses a variety of municipal operations functions. In the City of Knoxville, Public Works consists of the Engineering, Fleet Services, Inspections, Parks and Recreation and Public Service departments.

I have personally had the unique privilege of working for three of these departments over the course of my career with the City. The work done by Public Works crews allow citizens to drive safely down well maintained streets, play safely in well-maintained parks and generally enjoy a better quality of life in their City.

Of this dedicated group of public servants perpetually toiling away in the background, perhaps none work as deeply behind the scenes as those in Fleet Services. This is likely because Fleet Services does not have direct interaction with the public, but rather serves the citizens indirectly by providing all of the other service-providing departments with the vehicle and equipment resources they require to accomplish their respective missions.

Fleet work on a Public Service truck

In the City of Knoxville, Fleet Services provides the expertise and assistance to our customers in the Police, Fire, Public Service, Engineering, Parks and Recreation and other departments to acquire the best vehicles and equipment to fit their needs. Did you know that there are no dealerships selling finished Police Cars, Fire Ladder Trucks and Knuckleboom Loaders ready to drive off the lot and immediately into service?

Detailed specifications have to be written and put through a bid process in order to acquire these vehicles. Specialized attachments and equipment have to be purchased separately and upfit or attached onto newly purchased cars or truck chassis. Fleet Services professionals take cars and transform them into a Police Cruisers.

Fleet Services professionals work with firefighters to design and spec unique fire trucks that fit the needs of our City and our citizens. Fleet Services professionals meet with other public works professionals to discuss their needs and create specifications to build custom pieces of equipment that can meet those needs.

Fleet Services professionals like Jeff Johnston and Keri Collins make these tasks their mission for the City of Knoxville. While they are not rescuing a family from a burning home, removing dangerous criminals from our streets, or clearing snow and ice off the roads, their countless hours of behind-the-scenes efforts help make these vital municipal functions possible.

Other Fleet professionals like Justin Schreieck, Rick King, Sam Daily and Roger Rainey supervise their teams at the Fleet light shop, fire shop and heavy shop. As we all know, designing a specification, going to bid and eventually ordering and receiving a new vehicle or piece of equipment is only the beginning of a vehicle’s life. These professionals and their teams have the daunting day-to-day task of keeping these vehicles in top operating condition throughout their entire life cycle.

For a City with over 1,500 pieces of equipment, this is no easy feat. These supervisors’ lead talented teams of highly-skilled Technicians who are dedicated to making sure all of these vehicles and equipment remain in the field helping our customers to accomplish their mission.

Sometimes we take for granted how lucky we are in the City of Knoxville of have a vehicle replacement fund. While our team of highly-skilled professionals certainly have the skill to patch up a jalopy and keep it in on the road; thanks to the City’s replacement fund we rarely have to.

City vehicles and equipment have a defined life cycle. Every year, the City sets aside a portion of the cost to replace that vehicle so that when the life cycle is complete a new vehicle can be purchased more easily. This keeps our Fleet perpetually young and healthy and allows us to replace vehicles and equipment before they become unreliable or too expensive to maintain. As a result, the City of Knoxville has one of the best municipal Fleets in the State with an average age of just over six years.

This public works week, I hope everyone can remember to thank a public works professional for the behind-the-scenes work that they do. Please thank an inspector, an engineering technician or a maintenance worker.

Also, please consider thanking a Fleet professional. We don’t often thank a spec writer or a technician for getting us a vehicle that fits our needs and stays in good repair. I know that I’m as guilty of this as anyone. But I would like to take this opportunity now to thank all public works professionals and especially our team in the Fleet Services department for the sacrifices you make and for your dedication to the City. Thank you!

Nicholas Bradshaw
Deputy Director of Fleet Services
Posted by kgibi On 22 May, 2018 at 4:08 PM