From the Treetop: Kevin Fitzpatrick
by Kevin Fitzpatrick, Fleet Manager
It is amazing how far we’ve come in the evolution of utility vegetation management (UVM) equipment and the industry as a whole.
At the corporate office, there is a picture of Wright Tree Service founder John L. Wright taken after World War II, with his employees and their work vehicles. Primitive in nature and limited in use, this equipment includes international flatbeds with custom-made wood boxes, a few surplus army jeeps and a burial vault hauler repurposed for hauling logs. Fast forward to 2015 and take a look at the equipment we use now. We now have cutting edge over-center lifts, back yard lifts, spray rigs, self-feeding chippers, boom trimmers and right-of-way mowers. This is quite a difference from what they were using during the company’s humble beginnings!
While technological advances and improved safety features allow us to be more productive and reduce incidents, it comes with challenges. Because the equipment is more complex, they require more maintenance, inspections and potentially more time in repair shops to ensure reliability.
As we purchase and deploy new equipment into the field, we continue to develop training methods and systematic procedures to simplify their use and increase operator’s knowledge of them. We also conduct our own internal training on existing equipment, require aerial lift inspection classes, and as a result maintain strong relationships with manufacturers. This is important for mitigating issues before they occur and preserving the equipment we rely on every day when we have crews traveling and working in the field.
It is essential to be our Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Our equipment also plays a crucial role in ensuring every employee’s safety. To be truly vested in our safety culture we must be knowledgeable about proper operating procedures, diligent in our maintenance and thorough when inspecting.
Rewind back to the photo of John L. Wright. At that time, some of their main equipment focuses were on the maintenance of box trucks and inspecting hemp ropes. Today, maintenance and inspections are much more advanced, but in the end, have the same result and the same expectation. We all want to go home injury-free after a safe and productive day, and we expect all of our co-workers to want the same.