Nearly everyone across Philadelphia was inconvenienced by the onslaught of snow (and an encore of snow) which first hit the city on Sunday. But while most of us groaned at the weather from our computers, cheered on the Eagles from under a blanket, or quickly shoveled our driveways with the promise of hot chocolate, employees of the City’s Office of Fleet Management were in the midst of double-shifts with no end in sight. On Tuesday afternoon, after three arduous days, Fleet’s employees finally received the hot chocolate they deserved.
On Tuesday afternoon, Managing Director Rich Negrin showed up to Fleet Management’s Shop 159 on 4040 Whitaker Ave to deliver hot chocolate and three-dozen doughnuts. The team of 23 had been working double 12-hour shifts since Sunday. Some had even worked 36-hour shifts, tacking on their usual shift after working a double.
And they weren’t just changing oil. The Fleet Department is responsible for the maintenance of City vehicles, a great deal of which are 10+ years old. When a snowstorm hits, these vehicles are needed around the clock to plow snow and salt roads. The constant dependence on old vehicles makes maintenance a tough task. Lou Santoro, Fleet’s Automotive Team Leader and City employee of 26 years said:
There are times when you really have to step it up. Sometimes you’re doing five things at once. Everything’s a priority.
It’s also worth noting that none of these vehicles can’t be fixed without a laptop. The actual truck could be made by one manufacturer, while the salt system is made by another. Then the body of the vehicle, or any accessories, could be made by another. Fleet mechanics have to plug-in a laptop and access a wide range of systems to diagnose and fix a vehicle.
Nearing the end of the storm, the team enjoyed well-deserved doughnuts, hot chocolate, and a formal ‘thank you’ from Managing Director Rich Negrin.
Near the front of the line for doughnuts was George Schwartz, a Fleet Department employee of 24 years. George, a heavy-duty truck mechanic, said snow storms were probably his favorite aspect of the job. By mere coincidence, George’s retirement date is scheduled for next Friday, making this snow storm his last on the job. (We hope.) A talented woodworker, George will make furniture and toys for his grandchildren his full-time hobby. Thank you, George, for your public service.
The Managing Director’s Office would also like to thank every City employee who worked extra hours through the snow. Thank you for your service and thank you for keeping Philadelphia safe.