Knoxville’s Fleet Service Department receives national honor

 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The City of Knoxville’s Fleet Service Department recently received the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence Blue Seal Certification.

It marks the third year in a row that the city’s Fleet Services Light Shop has received the honor, which indicates that more than three-quarters of its mechanics hold at least one individual ASE certification and are at the top of their game. The certification also requires an ASE certified mechanic in every service area.

At one point Knoxville was among only a handful of municipalities in Tennessee to hold the sought-after recognition.

Keith Shields, deputy director for the city’s Fleet Services Department, said the department doesn’t take the Blue Seal Certification for granted no matter how often it receives the recognition.

I think it is a large kudos to our mechanics and their dedication to providing the best service possible to the City of Knoxville’s vehicles and to making sure they are staying abreast of the technology involved,” Shields said.

The shop’s mechanics have completed continuing education courses and successfully passed tests in several different areas to earn individual ASE certifications.

The National Institute for Automotive Service – a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of vehicle repair – offers tests in 40 categories ranging from transmission repair and suspension and steering to electrical systems and structural analysis and damage repair for light and heavy vehicles.

We have some master technicians who have eight or nine (certifications),” Shields said. “Our mechanics are providing the most bang for the buck for the taxpayer dollars.”

The city began encouraging its mechanics and other staffers eligible for ASE certifications to take continuing education courses a few years ago. The city pays for the testing fees.

Shields said the environment of continually increasing skills and knowledge makes for a stronger staff of mechanics that can make the correct repairs quickly. It also helps them diagnose and deal with more complex issues that might have forced the city to send vehicles to dealerships for repairs in past years.

That, he said, saves money for the city and its taxpayers.

We’re not going to use the trial and error method here,” Shields said. “We want to repair them right the first time. They are better able to diagnose the problems and make the correct repairs.”

Fleet Services’ mechanics are divided among the Light Shop, which works with vehicles under a ton, and a Heavy Shop which deals with everything else. The city has a fleet of about 1,400 vehicles including everything from fire department ladder trucks and heavy trucks used by public service to police cruisers, mid-sized sedans and small cars, vans and mowing machines.

The Fleet Services Department is committed to continuing to expand its abilities.

When I think of all the new technology that comes out every day, we have to stay ahead…so we don’t get left behind,” Shields said.