There’s no room for “We can’t fix the fire truck.” It can’t happen. You have to fix it. There’s no backing down from it or “Oh, we’ll get to it later.” No. You have to be there. You have to get this done now. No matter what, this truck’s gotta go.
My name is Rodney Lee. My title is heavy duty technician, uh, for the City of Charlotte here, maintaining fire trucks for the City of Charlotte.
We have to go out and do panic stops to make sure nothing’s, uh, when you hit the brakes like that the steering wheel ain’t trying to jerk out of you hand or it’s actually coming to a smooth stop. I’m doin’ a panic stop right now. So we’re doing good.
A typical day of work is trucks constantly breaking. The city is growing, and it’s growing fast. These fire trucks are breaking. They’re breaking fast because they have to respond and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes a lot of people don’t know about. It takes a lot to run one of these fire trucks.
There’s probably 120 fire trucks. Equipment-wise, there’s probably up to, uh, 7, 800 pieces of equipment that we have to maintain yearly, and each truck has to come in at least twice a year.
My family loves what I do. My grandkids, my wife. They all think it’s special, what I do. And it is special. I’ve always seen fire trucks as every little kid does. A lot of kids, they love fire trucks. They love ‘em and it makes me excited that sometimes we leave out of here and we have to test drive them and my youngest girl I used to do that to her and, uh, she’d sit in the back of the truck and we rolled around the parking lot and she was just laughing like to no end. So now she’s actually a Charlotte firefighter ‘cause of me. She just became a Charlotte firefighter.
I look at each one of the firefighters as my kid. If one of them gets hurt and it’s due to something I’ve done I feel just as responsible as anyone else. Every life is very important to me that gets in that truck, and that’s the way all the guys that I work with feel.
Again, it takes a special person to be a firefighter technician. You can ask any of them anything you want and they’re going to give you the same answer. We’re, we’re sort of weird but we love our job and we do our job well. The firemen that drive these trucks are just as important, but it takes us for them to be them who they are so that’s the bottom line.