All told, OUC owns 776 pieces of transportation equipment and scores of power tools, all of which require maintenance. Throw in dozens of Orlando Police Department cruisers, City of Orlando hydraulic trucks, buses owned by a local church and various contractors’ service trucks, plus body shop work and you begin to understand this number – 11,000. That’s how many work orders the Fleet Department’s 18 technicians handled over the 12-month period ending April 2019. Some jobs, such as replacing a spark plug on a chainsaw, took only a few minutes while others, like repairing the hydraulic system in a boom or aerial platform truck, kept these professionals tied up for hours.

“Our guys need to work on everything from chainsaws to bulldozers,” says Don Ricotta, explaining the variety of motorized equipment technicians repair on any given workday and during after-hours emergencies.

As manager of Fleet Services, Ricotta oversees OUC’s four vehicle maintenance facilities. He and supervisors Brian Frye (Pershing), Darren Burdick (Gardenia) and Chris Rash (Stanton Energy Center and St. Cloud) are all former OUC master mechanics, so they are familiar with the daily challenges their techs face and the time crunch they’re under to get vehicles and equipment back in service. The 22-member team has a combined 285 years of experience in OUC Fleet maintenance.

“A lot of guys in the industry are specialized, but here there’s a bit of everything,” says Frye.

Adds Ricotta, “The days of the shade tree mechanic are over.”

While the Pershing, Gardenia and St. Cloud facilities handle everything from light vehicles to bucket trucks to big rigs, Stanton takes care of oversized non-transportation equipment like dump trucks and bulldozers. Two mechanics keep Stanton’s two 150,000-plus-pound dozers, diesel-powered locomotive engine and other large vehicles running. Waste associated with vehicle upkeep is disposed of according to federal and state regulations, says Ricotta.

Vince Preston, Director of Fleet and Facilities, commends his maintenance team’s versatility and commitment. “There is a lot more to maintaining such a diverse fleet of rolling stock and equipment than simply changing tires, peforming an oil change or replacing a leaking hose line,” he says. “The staff takes seriously their obligation to field equipment that is safe, reliable, ready for work at a moment’s notice, and meets the service delivery demands all the while complying with increasingly stringent environmental standards. OUC is blessed to have such a competent group of professionals.”