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Equipment Services

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Fleet Management

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Equipment Services

Fleet Management

Whatcom County Public Works' Equipment Rental and Revolving Fund (ER&R) is responsible for the fleet management of vehicles used by Whatcom County departments.  This service, provided to every Whatcom County department, allows county Fleet maintenancepersonnel to service the greater population of Whatcom County.  If you see a vehicle bearing a Whatcom County logo or Sheriff's shield, Public Works maintains it.

One element of fleet management is the ability of the maintenance crew to safely repair and service priority vehicles to ensure the safety of the public and continued operation of other Public Works divisions and Whatcom County Departments.  It is the philosophy of the Equipment Services staff to respond quickly, responsibly, and with excellent service.  Priorities are set for safety, crew and public impact, and cost impact.  Planning of service projects occurs around the road crew schedule.  Maintaining priority equipment in a timely fashion allows for the least amount of down time.  Fleet management provides service for the Whatcom County Ferry "Whatcom Chief" by assisting with dry dock facilitation and acquisition of a passenger only ferry during that time.

The fleet of 435 vehicles can use up to $400,000 worth of fuel a year.   The maintenance shop personnel responsible for servicing the vehicles, complete 400 brake jobs and service 1500 vehicles a year.  Other repairs to the fleet (completed primarily by outside vendors) include glass installation and auto body work.  The acquisition of parts, through the Central Stores section of Equipment Services, keeps the maintenance crew up and running.

New advances in vehicle technology require annual training for the maintenance staff.  The recent acquisition of a high mileage gas/electric hybrid vehicle reinforced the need for the maintenance staff to remain current with new technology through up-to-date training.

Another key component is the reasonable replacement of the fleet as it ages.  Annual vehicle acquisition totals approximately $1.3 million.  During the annual Whatcom County budget preparation cycle, other departments and public works divisions may submit their request for replacement vehicles.  The rental rate paid by each department and division to the ER&R fund for each vehicle allows for more than just fuel usage and regular and emergency maintenance.  The rental rate also allows for the replacement of vehicles as they age.  The type of vehicle ranges from the new gas/electric hybrid car, lawn mowers, snowplows,Sheriff vehicle and street sweepers to Sheriff's cruisers.  The Equipment Services' shop facility includes an ecologically friendly "ozone generation plant" to purify the wastewater that accumulates from equipment upkeep, cleaning, and maintenance.  This system balances the pH of the wastewater to the appropriate level allowed by the Department of Ecology for water to enter the sewer system.  They also operate and maintain the emergency response van for small spill containment and cleanup keeping petroleum, pesticide, and other toxins from entering the ground water, rivers, and streams until larger response teams can get on site.

Driver safety is also an issue.  While the shop crew maintains all vehicles to a high level of safety, the administration ensures that each vehicle driver receives the appropriate information necessary to operate, report hazards and accidents, and identify maintenance issues to the appropriate personnel.  Whatcom County, through its Safety and Training section, also provides defensive driving training.

The ER&R fund is unique in the fact that the funding is different from any other within the county.  Internal funding, setting up rental rates, rates to cover overhead, and fleet maintenance and replacement is unique.  As long as other departments are functioning and the need is there for materials, supplies and equipment to perform projects, the ER&R fund will be there too.  Rental Rates were increased approximately 20% in 2002 to cover rising costs of fuel, acquisition and maintenance.

Some of the key users of this service include Health & Human Services, Public Works Maintenance & Operations (Road Crew), the Sheriff's Department, the Assessor's Department, Parks & Recreation, and Planning & Development Services.

Due to the nature of ER&R, it is necessary to receive timely information on projects and goals of other Public Works divisions and other Whatcom County departments.  Items impacted by other departments and Public Works divisions are fleet vehicle purchases, hours of operation, and necessary inventory stock.