Better Roads Staff
“The system will provide us with enough fuel to do 400 diesel gallon equivalents(DGE) at 3,600 psi,” Tews says. “This is phenomenal.” Slow fill will also be available to take advantage of lower electric city rates after hours through sequential time fill. “This means you can plug in to any of 16 hoses and authorize the pump.” Tews says, adding that the fuel can also be tracked to provide accountability and financial numbers to the city.
“You authorize the equipment number and the hose number it’s hooked up to,” Tews explains. “Sometime during the night, the system will fire up and measure the amount of fuel that went into the truck. This information will be uploaded right to our system. I need to know how much fuel went into each vehicle. I will get questions like, ‘How far can you go? How much is it costing?’ I’ll be able to answer these questions.”
Operators Training Operators
Why one Iowa city has confidence in its winter operators
Just how sure are you that when the storms and blizzards blast into your part of the world your equipment operators are up to the task? Oh sure, there are the veterans, but there will also be some newbies and some in-betweens ready to climb into cabs.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has developed a two-week comprehensive training program that takes everyone from a secretary (who might have in his or her contract that snowplowing is an expected job duty in an emergency) to a full-time operator.
The City of West Des Moines, Iowa, borrowed from the agency’s idea to develop its own two-day operator training program known as “In-House SPOT.” The program has now grown to a “Metro SPOT program” composed of five to nine different agencies attending the program with 12 representatives from six metro agencies making up the program committee. Everyone on the committee is an equipment operator.
In a place like West Des Moines where heavy snowfall and serious cold bring challenges to winter weather crews every year, a competent operator pool is vital.
“An operator needs to do hands on testing,”
— Matt Dolan, City of West Des Moines, Iowa
The training program focuses on three key areas: pre-trip/classroom training, a hands-on skill course and a road critique, explains Matt Dolan, a Level 3 equipment operator with the city and an instructor for the program. He says the hands-on experience is invaluable, particularly because equipment operators are training in the same machines they operate on a day-to-day basis. “An operator needs to do hands on testing,” Dolan says, speaking from his own operator experience.
Nathan Geil, another seasoned West Des Moines equipment operator, adds: “It’s important that agencies send in their own equipment so that operators don’t spend two days training on a piece of equipment that they will not be operating.”
It is also important operators experience as much realism as possible with procedures and situations, Dolan says. The training, which takes place at the city’s local fairgrounds, is a fully enclosed course with realistic road conditions.
Some of the maintenance issues created for trainees to notice include a serpentine belt removed, a wiper blade taken off, a mechanic pouring oil over a seal to simulate leaking oil, a safety belt missing from a truck, a valve stem cap missing from a tire, and a fire extinguisher missing from a truck. These are real maintenance issues, Geil says, but they can go unnoticed.
Dolan says the training works because it’s “realistic, overall cost is about $80 for two days of training, it keeps students busy, students are trained on their own equipment by operators from their own agency, and it’s a balance of classroom and hands-on training.”
“You can’t lecture operators for eight hours,” Geil says. “Their eyes will glaze over and you’ll lose the students, so we get them out in the field. We also have a roundtable with a trainer and the other operators.”
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