North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Features

August 29, 2011

Fultondale worker drives the big truck

On the Job

FULTONDALE — Frank Vickery has the job every 5-year-old boy dreams of: Driving the big trucks.

Vickery has been a heavy equipment operator for three years. His job mostly consists of driving a boom truck, a big truck with a big bed and a big crane.

His day-to-day job typically involves driving along a pre-determined route and picking up brush that residents have piled in their lawns by the road. However, since the April 27 torndados struck, Vickery’s workload has been increased considerably. Now his truck picks up much more than brush; on Friday, he was using his truck to pick up the remains of the former Fultondale inspections office, which was all but destroyed by the storms.

“There was a lot of tornado debris to pick up, and there’s still some left,” said Vickery. “It’s a struggle, but we’ve had some good help.”

He said cleaning up debris from damaged buildings is harder than picking up the organic brush.

“It’s harder to load, because the debris is all smashed to pieces,” he said.

Vickery used to do vehicle maintenence, but work dried up when the recession hit. Vickery took the job as a heavy equipment operator, got a special license and went to work.

Vickery said he likes driving the big machines, but that their sheer size can make driving challenging and he has to pay special attention to things normal drivers never think of.

“I have to keep from knocking over light poles,” he said.

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