OTTAWA — Inspectors from the District 1 Ohio Department of Transportation garage spent Wednesday and Thursday inspecting winter equipment. The Putnam County garage in Ottawa was their final stop Wednesday.
The District 1 inspectors checked the mechanics of each vehicle that will be used for plowing snow and district safety inspectors checked safety equipment in the vehicles during the yearly prewinter inspection.
“We’ve been getting ready for the last three weeks, on and off,” said Dean Williamson, one of two new transportation managers at the Putnam County ODOT garage. “We have the mechanics and highway techs go over them. They check turn signals, lights, fluids, grease them. They check for tightness of bolts and nuts. They check to make sure safety equipment like first aid kits are in the trucks and stored properly.”
The yearly inspection is graded out of 150 points, said Rhonda Pees, ODOT Public Information Officer. Each vehicle has its own inspection sheet and the inspectors go through each vehicle noting any issues with them.
“We look at their fire extinguishers to make sure they are charged and maintained,” said Mark Bressler, an ODOT safety manager. “We make certain each truck has a flashlight on hand, flags in case drivers need to get out and do traffic control, first aid kits, safety vests and even emergency heating blankets.”
The inspectors also check to make certain all gear is stored securely so if there is a rare incident where a driver rolls during an accident they are not struck by heavy, falling gear, Bressler said.
“We really grill them on that,” he said.
After the mechanics and safety inspectors finished their work, they met with the highway technicians, transportation managers Williamson and Larry Schroeder and Paul Lehman, the transportation administrator of the Putnam County garage, and went through the results with them.
The Putnam garage had good inspection results, said Kyle Fields, district garage manager. Most of the things the garage needs to work on with its vehicles is federal DOT guidelines stuff; lights, tires, breaks and other mechanical things such as that, he said.
“We always feel confident when we put them on the road,” Lehman said. “But, it’s a mechanical piece of equipment. It’s going to breakdown.”
The Putnam County garage has two mechanics on staff to fix anything that breaks down. If it’s too severe for them to fix they can always call in district mechanics from Lima, he said.
Wednesday’s inspection wasn’t the only time the snowplows are inspected, Williamson and Schroeder said. Drivers look for fluid leaks and blade problems at turnaround points on their routes. New drivers inspect them when coming in for a shift during winter storms. After a winter storm passes, the garage mechanics inspect every inch of the trucks before preparing them for the next storm.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.