Under the radar: Unsung Fleet, Facility Services workers keep St. George humming

ST. GEORGE – Every organization, be it a business or municipality, has people who work behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. They can form the foundation of any organization but can also be easily overlooked. For the City of St. George, there are many departments and divisions comprised of employees and volunteers who work under the radar of public notice.

“What we as the city recognize – in terms of the mayor and City Council – is that our city employees are the backbone of the city,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.

Fleet Services technician working one one the city's police cruisers. The city's Fleet technician outfit every cruiser with its lights, sirens and other systems, which can pack up to two miles wiring in each police vehicle, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
A Fleet Services technician works on one of the city’s police cruisers. The city’s Fleet technicians outfit every cruiser with its lights, sirens and other systems, which can require up to 2 miles of wiring in each police vehicle, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

In the spirit of Labor Day, a national holiday enacted by Congress in 1894 to honor the achievements and contributions of the American worker, St. George News is highlighting two divisions of the City of St. George’s Support Services Department: Fleet Services and Facility Services.

The City of St. George has the fourth largest municipal vehicle fleet in the state, with 930 pieces of rolling equipment that encompass 120 different vehicle types. This includes everything from heavy equipment and police cruisers to riding lawnmowers and SunTran buses.

Making sure the city fleet keeps moving are nine technicians and a six-member support staff team, who not only provide preventive mechanical maintenance and repair but also ensure road vehicles are licensed, insured and properly outfitted for their designated use.

In 2013, Fleet Services technicians received the Automotive Service Excellence Blue Seal certification, which means at least 75 percent of the staff is certified and qualified in multiple disciplines. A technician can work on a police cruiser one day and then easily move on to a backhoe, motorcycle or riding lawnmower the next. St. George is one of two cities in the state that has this certification.

SunTran bus in for maintenance at the Fleet Services facility, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
SunTran bus in for maintenance at the Fleet Services facility, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“It’s quite a feather in their cap,” Fleet Services Manager Courtney Stephens said. “… I’m very proud of the work they do. … Most of them are exceptional in what they do.”

The technicians are also certified by Ford, Dodge and General Motors, as well as numerous auto parts vendors. This allows them to do warranty work on vehicles in-house instead taking them to a dealership or bringing in a service technician from out of state, which saves the city a substantial amount of money annually, Stephens said.

Still, the public rarely, if ever, deals directly with Fleet Services, even though they see their handiwork on the streets every day when a SunTran bus or police cruiser drives by or they notice a street sweeper moving alongside the road or someone riding a mower on a golf course. This is because the division’s primary and only customer is the City of St. George.

Fleet Services technician working one one the city's firetrucks, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Fleet Services technician works on one of the city’s firetrucks, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“I would venture to say there isn’t really 10 percent of the population that knows what we do or knows that we even exist. It’s not something that affects them on a daily basis,” Stephens said.

Though he said it may be bold on his part, Stephens said if Fleet Services and its technicians didn’t do what they do, the city and its many other departments and divisions wouldn’t be able to work.

“Everybody’s important, don’t get me wrong,” he said, “but really, the heart of keeping the city going is here in Fleet, because if the equipment isn’t running, neither is the city.”

Fleet Services is located in a large, multi-bayed facility where the majority of the work is done. A new facility catering to larger pieces of equipment will soon be built and was approved in the city’s current budget at an overall cost of $2.3 million.

The new fleet facility will add to the more than 720,000 square feet of city property primarily cleaned and maintained by another behind-the-scenes division of Support Services: Facility Services.

A Facility Service's technician services an air conditioning unit atop a city building to make sure those inside remains cool and comfortable, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
A Facility Service’s technician services an air conditioning unit atop a city building to make sure those inside remains cool and comfortable, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“When you’re really warm in a building, or really cold, we’re the first ones to get a phone call,” Facilities Services Manager Carlos Robles said. “We’re more the people behind the scenes (who) are really unnoticed until something goes wrong. Then we get all the phone calls.”

The Facility Services staff includes four technicians, six full-time janitors and an army of 30 part-time janitors who tend to more than 70 city-owned buildings.

Beyond responding to calls to repair things like faulty lighting or a malfunctioning air-conditioning unit, Facility Services also manages the modeling of existing city buildings, like the recently opened Electric Theater Center, or the construction of new buildings, like the incoming Fleet Services facility.

As for the public impact Facility Services has, Robles said, a few months ago, he noticed there wasn’t an automatic door mechanism on the door to the room where people pay their utility bills at the city offices. That is no longer the case.

A Facility Service's technician performing maintenance on drinking fountains. When called to fix issue, the technicians will also do a general check of the building for any other potential issues. The preventative helps save the city money in the long run, Facility Services Manager Carlos Robles said, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
A Facility Services technician performs maintenance on drinking fountains. When called to fix issues, the technicians will also do a general check of the building for any other potential issues. The preventative work helps save the city money in the long run, St. George, Utah, Sept. 3, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“I noticed a person in a wheelchair trying to open the door, and I realized we don’t have a push-door opener, so we installed that here a few months back,” Robles said. “… Stuff like that we do a lot of.”

Currently, facility staff engaged in replacing old shower heads and faucets at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center as well as overseeing several roofing projects across the city.

“We wouldn’t be anything without our employees,” Pike said. “It’s not the City Council; it’s not the mayor; it’s not the city manager it’s not the department heads. It’s the everyday – behind the scenes often at times – line-level workers of the city that do the all the jobs that we sometimes don’t realize that have to be done … that we take for granted.”

Within the past week, members of the St. George City Council and city staff began sharing a short video over social media connected with a campaign called “More Happening Ahead” that highlights city workers and projects. That video is shared below.

“We really appreciate every single one of our employees,” Pike said. “… This is a good day to honor them.”

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

 

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1 Comment

  • old school September 7, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Now you’re talking, lets here it for the “Maintainers”!!!!!

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