Fleet Services

 Keeping our city rolling

What does it take to keep an entire city on the move? How many vehicles does it take to provide police cruisers, firetrucks, utility trucks, garbage trucks, street sweepers, beach combers, lawn mowers, snow plows, and plain old cars to serve all the residents of the Mermaid City?

Go on. Try to guess!

How many objects with wheels or engines does the city operate across more than 30 departments with more than 5,000 employees serving nearly 250,000 residents?
4? 40? 400? 

Now that's a lot of tires

All told, the City's Fleet includes more than 2,000 "assets": cars, trucks, and equipment such as tractors and excavators that allow Team Norfolk members from police officers and firefighters to forest rangers and landscape crews to refuse collectors to keep our city safe, beautiful and clean. 
These vehicles allow city staff from service divisions such as Planning, Neighborhood Development, the Community Services Board and Human Services to reach residents in their neighborhoods.
From filling potholes to digging up water lines to creating a cemetery plot, the city deploys multiple types of specialized equipment.
And now, information on all these assets lives here in Norfolk Open Data.
Sorting and filtering this data can tell you a lot about city operations.
Q: What's the most expensive vehicle? 
A: A ladder truck for Fire Station 14. This truck was purchased in 2015 at a cost of $1,060,283.
Ladder trucks are crucial equipment for responding to fires in tall buildings.
Q: Which department has the most vehicles? 
A: Utilities, by a set of hubcaps: it has four more vehicles than the Norfolk Police Department, which ranks second.

Q: What is the most common type of vehicle in the city's fleet? 
A: The Ford F-150 with 78 vehicles. In fact, the Ford F-Series is very frequent, with 257 vehicles.

Q: What's the oldest vehicle in the fleet?

The oldest vehicle in the fleet is this behemoth, in use by  Norfolk Fire-Rescue: a 1983 AM General. It was purchased in August 2013 for use during flooding.
The oldest vehicle in longest continuous service for the city is a 1988 GMC Topkick medium duty truck in use by Recreation, Parks and Open Space, and two 1989 vehicles, including a Ford F-450, in the Department of General Services.

Hand us a wrench

Fleet maintains the hundreds of vehicles in its care. With 29 technicians in the city's shop on Lance Road, that means each is responsible for about 71 assets: oil and belt changes, new tires and rotations, brake pad replacement, state inspections, plus all of the usual repairs due to use as well as damage. 
Keep in mind that many of the city's vehicles are in 24/7/365 use: police and fire vehicles, garbage trucks, and street sweepers for example. Heavy daily use requires significant upkeep due to wear and tear. Others take a lot of abuse by their very design: the city's beach comber rakes trash out of miles of sand each day in the summer. Fleet also cares for city vehicles damaged while on the road:  a firetruck was rear-ended and sustained $56,000 worth of damage. To ensure uninterrupted service to residents, especially for Public Works vehicles, Fleet works around the clock, too, repairing vehicles overnight that need to be on the road in the morning.  
The technicians in this shop also maintain small engines and motors, and work on specialized equipment including golf-style carts modified for use in parking garages, beach and street sweepers.
All told, technicians completed 9,504 work orders in Fiscal Year 2020.
The data presented here helps Fleet to track: 

Lifetime vehicle cost

Each of the dots in the chart above represents the total lifetime costs of a vehicle in the city's fleet -- purchase price plus maintenance. As you might expect, the most expensive vehicles are among the most expensive to maintain. Norfolk Fire-Rescue's ladder trucks, for example, are the dots in the extreme right portion of the graph.
Most vehicles in the city's fleet have lifetime costs under $50,000 -- that's the largest cluster of dots in the lower left corner.
The city's average vehicle cost is $56,361, and average life-to-date maintenance costs are $22,808, for a total average cost of $78,186. Averages include both the city's least and most expensive vehicles. 
The median cost is much, much less. Park all the city's vehicles in a long, long line arranged in order of expense and sit on the hood of the one in the middle. Its value is $32,621 for lifetime purchase and maintenance cost.

Points toward replacement

Each year, Fleet assesses all the assets the city owns and assigns a point value that indicates its condition. The point value is based on:
Maintenance Cost Life-To-Date (LTD): Maintenance Cost LTD is double-weighted, on a scale of 0-10, and is assigned a 10 when the maintenance cost LTD equals the original purchase price. The points are determined by the percentage of the current LTD maintenance divided by the original purchase price. The points for this factor identify high maintenance assets.
Life-to-Date Mileage or Hours: LTD meters are rated on a scale of 0-5. The points are determined by the percentage of the current LTD meter divided by the expected meter life, the recommended annual usage. 
Expended Life In Months: 
Life in months is rated on a scale of 0-5. The points are determined by the percentage of the current life in months divided by the useful life in months.

Points pile up

When a vehicle rates 15 points or more, Fleet recommends it for replacement. As reflected in this chart, at the last update in December 2020 a significant number of vehicles in the city's fleet -- 147 -- rated 20 points. A substantial portion rated 15 or higher but less than 20: 395 vehicles.
In Fiscal Year 2019, Norfolk's City Council approved a 10-cent real estate tax increase, with a portion of the additional revenue dedicated to addressing the backlog of aging city vehicles and equipment. In Fiscal Year 2020, Fleet worked with the city's Purchasing Department to acquire 118 replacement units at a cost of $9 million.
Fleet uses the point totals to prioritize vehicles on the replacement list.
Two, four, six, eight, so many tires to appreciate
The city's Fleet ranges from trucks filled with ice cream to vans filled with stray dogs and cats, from motorcycles to refuse trucks decked out for the holidays. Next time you see a street sweeper or a refuse collection truck in your neighborhood, imagine a long line of men and women standing behind it, tools in hand, ready to keep it rolling in good repair.
We leave you with one more image, a compilation by Norfolk Police Department of its service vehicles through the years. Check out the fins in that second row! 

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