Events
Cleveland, OH.
June 17-19, 2021
San Antonio, TX.
Aug. 5-7, 2021
Las Vegas, NV.
Sept. 15-17, 2021
Baltimore, MD.
Nov. 11-14, 2021
American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing October 21 - October 27, 2020

Tow Truck Parade to Honor [b]NH Towman William Grizzaffi

Tow truck drivers from the Upper Valley of NH are planning a parade on Sunday, Oct. 11, for William Grizzaffi, owner of Grizzaffi Towing and Recovery in Lebanon, NH.

Grizzaffi was killed in Old Orchard Beach, Me., hit by an Amtrak train while crossing a railroad track on foot.

In 1995 Grizzaffi started his towing business and was known to be a tireless worker. His good friend Bart Daley said, “I don’t think he slept for 30 years.”

As he grew his business, Grizzaffi made a name for himself in and around his community.

“You couldn’t travel anywhere in the Upper Valley where he wasn’t known,” Daley said. “His trucks were everywhere and he was everywhere. That’s just the way it was. He built an empire.”

His wife Lori Grizzaffi wants to keep the trucking company going in her husband’s honor, adding that friends of theirs have already offered to help her keep it running for free.

https://www.vnews.com/


Click here to read more

A Tale of Two Cities

A couple of news stories featured in TIW this week centered around towing reforms in two major cities: Baltimore and Chicago. In Baltimore, several tow companies are upset by the fact that they were not consulted on a towing bill that is set to be signed by the mayor of the city. Vision Wrecker’s manager Charles Parrish stated that “Citizens should have a place to be heard.” He indicated that the sponsor of the bill refused to meet with towers nor have towers seen a copy of the bill that includes 11 amendments. The bill’s sponsor maintains, however, that the amendments will open up more tow companies into the city’s towing rotation. Although the towers don’t seem to have a problem with that, they do have a problem with the specific amendments that may cause a host of problems.

In Chicago, another story has unfolded over a longer period of time regarding the predatory practices seemingly endemic to the city. That is, according to a CBS news investigative reporting team that has exposed numerous cases in which company’s have charged exorbitant storage fees, changed their business names when encountering pressure from the city due to misbehavior, and have acted as if they are living in the wild west, racing to beat the next tower to the scene of an accident. In response, the city is taking action, led by city councilman Gilbert Villegas. These ordinances, if passed into a bill, will mandate towing rotations and assert more punitive actions against misbehaving tow companies.


David Nabarro, WHO envoy, advocates a more focused approach to fighting the virus rather than locking down economies.
How Tow Bosses Around the USA are Grappling with Pandemic Effects

Undercurrents of Meaning

00 9c048By George L. Nitti

Symbolism found on tow trucks sometimes carries meaning beyond the public’s understanding.

For Brian Slesinski, Sr., owner of Fastlane Towing of Collingsville, Il., a 2017 T880 Kenworth Twin Steer 75 Ton Century Rotator with six winches was an opportunity to do something very special.

He said, “This was probably a once in a lifetime truck. There are lot of things that have meaning towards our business which you will find on it.”

Part of the essence of the design, skillfully rendered by airbrush artist Rhyno Templeton, replicates ingredients found on the 100 dollar bill, including the company name – “Fastlane Towing” - written above the United States of America, serial numbers that reflect the company’s DOT number, a 100 dollar symbol and other unique touches.

Slesinski explained, “In 2002, I left a company over a 100 dollar raise they refused to give me. I ended up leaving the company and starting my own. That is why the hundred dollars is on there.”

Instead of Ben Franklin, the icon of the $100 bill, Slesinski used the image of the Joker in order to symbolize that the joke is on you because he made it despite the challenges.

“When I left the company,” he said, “Nobody wanted to give me the money to start a towing company. It was a lot of hard work. My wife was answering the phones and my son was driving a small truck while I went out selling at night. I started the business in the basement of my home.”

Beautifully rendered symbolism of a Peterbilt truck is found on the hood of the rotator and provides tribute to a couple of generations of family members, underscoring Slesinski’s commitment to family values.

He said, “The design came from a tattoo on my arm. The stacks on my arm are wrenches giving tribute to my grandfather who was a mechanic and worked on tractor trailers. The air cleaners are paint guns with my Dad’s name because he was a painter of semi-trailers.”

On the visor of the Peterbilt is another family name while on the front bumper it states, “Family Tradition,” in an elegant, flowing script.

“My son, daughter, wife and sometimes grandson work here, including my son-in-law and daughter in law. We are family owned and operated.”

Over the image of the legal tender, a large tow chain envelops this giant green unit with modern, zig-zagging lines giving it further artistic flavor while on the side doors, in a niftily written font, it states the name of the company – “Fastlane.”

Slesinski said, “We’re always going and we don’t take days off. That’s how it is in our business…. But we do it for our kids and grandkids so that they can have a better life.”

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

By Don Lomax
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Have you diversified into any new revenue streams to cope with the pandemic?
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Editor: Charles Duke
Managing Editor: Brendan Dooley
Media Director: William Burwell
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203,
William Burwell x208, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
October 21 - October 27, 2020
Chicago's "seedy" towing practices have come under attack, leading to 2 proposed ordinances.

Chicago Councilman Proposes Two Ordinances

As a result of countless stories about the shady practices of Chicago towers and a hearing in early September, city Alderman Gilbert Villegas has acted to create two towing ordinances.

At a hearing in early September, concerns about tower practices were brought up, including arriving on crash scenes before police and fire personnel, red light running and overcharging for storage fees, in some cases requiring large amounts of cash.

“We feel that this is a public safety issue,” Villegas said, hoping that he will be the last city official to tackle these “seedy” situations.

One ordinance will give the city the ability to revoke a license for misbehavior. Villegas suggests that this will gives tow companies less time to change their name, go out of business and then open up a business within days, which often happens under the current system.

The second proposal by Villegas is a rotation ordinance for police tows and wrecks – a rotating system of which tow operator gets sent where and when.

“The city could be broken up theoretically into north, central, and south, where there’ll be territories that companies can bid on,” Villegas said, “and once an accident does take place, the Chicago Police Department knows to notify the approved vendors.”

https://chicago.cbslocal.com
On the Hook with John Borowski - 6
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October 21 - October 27, 2020
Charles Parrish, manager of Baltimore's Vision Wrecker Service, discussing the lack of input from towers on proposed towing amendments.

Outcry over Baltimore [b]Towing Reforms

Some tow companies in Baltimore said that they felt blindsided by recent proposals by the city to reform the industry through the passage of an upcoming bill. These changes may include 11 new amendments.

Charles Parrish, who manages Vision Wrecker Service, said he and others in the towing industry were never informed about the proposals until minutes before a city council committee was slated to vote on the measures.

He said, “If you want to reform our industry, make public awareness.”

Other tow companies in the city of Baltimore expressing concern include Auto Barn, Frankford’s, Universal, Nell’s, Ted’s, Pollard’s and Mc-n-Mc Towing.

Norman McCarthy of Mc-n-Mc said, “You are going to chase the good people out of the industry and you are going to be stuck with a bunch of thieves.”

City councilman Ryan Dorsey, who drafted the legislation, defended the proposals, writing “This bill requires a study of new dispatch methods that I believe could open the door for smaller businesses to become prime contractors to the city.”

While towing operators believe reforms are necessary, they question why they never were allowed input.

Parrish stated, “While we don’t have a problem with more tow companies , we do have a problem with how they plan to execute the dispatching through an Uber style dispatcher.”

A final vote was taken and the bill will pass, pending the signing by the mayor.

https://foxbaltimore.com/

Missouri Tow company Sued [b]for Wrongful Death

Missouri tow company Affordable Towing of Springfield was sued for the wrongful death of Matt Canovi, who was run over by a tow truck after he got a flat tire in May.

According to police, Canovi, who hosted the The Gun Show on local radio, died as a result of his injuries. On Sept. 24, Canovi's wife and children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Affordable Towing and the driver who hit Canovi.

The lawsuit claims that when the tow truck driver from Affordable Towing arrived, Canovi spoke with him and then began walking back toward his vehicle on the side of the highway. He got hit as the tow truck backed up.

The lawsuit claims the driver was negligent in not keeping a careful lookout, backing up at an excessive speed, not giving enough warning before backing up and not making sure Canovi was out of the way.

https://www.news-leader.com/

Nissan to Pay for [b]Wrongful Repossessions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alleged that between 2013 and 2019, Nissan Motor’s lending unit “wrongly repossessed hundreds of consumers’ vehicles despite the consumer having made payment.” Although Nissan’s lending arm denied any wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $4 million to settle the allegations.

The CFPB charges include that Nissan repossessed vehicles within delinquency of 60 days when terms stipulated against that. In addition, they kept personal property in repossessed vehicles until consumers paid a storage fee, and deprived consumers paying by phone of the ability to select payment options with significantly lower fees."

The agency said actions violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement imposes requirements "to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward," the bureau said.

https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/

National Move Over [b]Day, October 17

With National Move Over Day set for Saturday, 10/17, several states are planning events to remind drivers to move over and slow down when approaching stopped emergency responders, tow trucks, and utility or maintenance vehicles with warning lights flashing.

Arizona’s Professional Towing and Recovery Association will hold their National Move Over Day, in Tempe, Az., with highlights including a tow truck parade, carnival games, a tow truck show, Rotator Drop in the Bucket, and more.

In Wisconsin, their State Patrol’s October Law of the Month is put in place to remind drivers to slow down and move over as they reported 1,676 traffic convictions for violating the law. In New York, with over 10,000 citations last year, electronic signs along state highways will display reminders to promote awareness. Colorado’s Towing and Recovery Professional also initiated an event this year, only to cancel due to concerns from Covid-19.

Last year, California’s Tow Truck Association (CTTA) went to 3 cities in the state on National Move Over Day to spread the word. According to CTTA President Quinn Piening, “Tow operators are some of the hardest working people on the planet. They are out on the roads every hour of every day, protecting the motoring public. Raising awareness of Move Over laws is the least we can do for our fallen brothers and sisters, and hopefully our message will make an impact.”

In the towing industry, move-over awareness campaigns have been ongoing, with towers and towing associations in the forefront advocating reforms through legislation and move-over awareness slogans seen on hundreds of tow trucks throughout the country.

American Towman has led efforts to bring awareness to this issue through their Spirit Ride Campaign, which relayed the Spirit casket in over 300 cities across the nation. Ceremonies in each of the cities honored fallen first responders and were followed by processions of tow trucks, fire trucks, EMS trucks, police cruisers and motorcycles. The Spirit Ride earned nearly 1,000 news reports in city and country newspapers, local and regional television stations and radio stations. Coverage of the Spirit Ride can still be found on the Internet.

RI Tower Honored with [b]Towing Procession

Tow truck companies from around Providence, RI, organized a procession to show support for Chuck Jepson, Jr., 57, who unexpectedly passed away. He owned Chuck & Sons towing for many years.

Jepson worked in the business since he was 17 years old, operating out of a few towns in Rhode Island over the years including Johnston and Smithfield.

Jepson’s best friend, Michael Sobczak said, “The tow trucks, that was his love, that was his business, that was his life, that was his livelihood.”

About 50 tow trucks were involved in the procession, which began at the AAA offices in Providence and ended at a Funeral Home in Cranston, RI, causing delays on Interstate 95 south.

https://www.wpri.com/

Arizona’s Move Over Day Parade

On Oct 17, the Arizona Professional Towing and Recovery Association will hold a National Move Over Day, in Tempe, Az. Highlights will include a tow truck parade, carnival games, a tow truck show, Rotator Drop in the Bucket, and more. Activities begin at 6:30 a.m. and will last into the early afternoon.

Every year, on the 3rd Saturday in October, National Move-Over Day has been designated in order to bring further awareness to Move-Over laws enacted by every state in the country. The law impacts the safety of emergency responders including police, fire, EMS, DOT, Towing and Recovery Operators and Service Patrols.

The Arizona Professional Towing & Recovery Association, founded in 1982, is composed of towing company’s around the state, with one of its missions to raise awareness for the dangers facing tow operators on a daily basis.
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October 21 - October 27, 2020

Windmill Tower Recovery

1 d31cc
by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

Early evening, on June 23rd, 2020, dispatcher Carla Ruiz of Central Iowa Towing & Recovery Inc. received a call from a trucking company that was carrying a super-load, which had overturned off of an exit ramp on Interstate 35 south bound just outside of Decatur City, Iowa.

They were told it was a 2009 Kenworth T800 heavy-haul tractor and its 8-axle trailer hauling a large section of windmill tower weighing approximately 220k-pounds.

Central owner Dustin Tapp informed, “We have done these windmill sections that had overturned in the past, but none were this heavy.”

Dispatch arranged a crew to start towards the accident scene. Operator Jared Vandewall was sent out in their 2014 Kenworth T800 equipped with a Century 1140 40-ton rotator. Operator Mike Lamberson responded in their 2020 Peterbilt 389 twin-steer equipped with a Century 1150 50-ton knee boom rotator. Operator Alex Gustafson responded in their 2015 Peterbilt 387 equipped with a Century 5130 wrecker. Operator Cody Holmes responded in their 2008 Kenworth T800 equipped with a Century 4024. Central’s Incident Response truck was brought out by operator Kevin Murphy. Others who responded were Craig Tapp, Chase Carlson, Billy See, Luke Schnieder, Tyler Mortvedt, and Nate Brommel to assist with traffic control, fuel spill clean up, and rigging.

Dustin stated, “We sent quite a bit of iron and personnel as we were only given very limited information and the scene of the incident was 103 miles from our home base. Its always best to have more personnel and equipment than you need versus waiting for its arrival.”

On their way to the incident the Central crew learned that another company had originally been called, but did not have enough equipment for such a large job.

“We made contact with the wrecker company to see if they had any pictures or details,” said Dustin. “We learned it was on a very narrow ramp with a steep shoulder. After reviewing the pictures we decided to bring in another wrecker company that we work very well with.”

Dustin called on Wes Penny at Mid Iowa Towing in Des Moines, Iowa and he and his son Austin responded with their 2020 Peterbilt 389 equipped with a Century 1150 50-ton rotator.

When the operators arrived on scene they did their walk-around, surveyed the situation and made a recovery plan.

“Local and State law officials were informed of the complexity of the recovery and given a rough time frame we would have the ramp closed,” explained Dustin. “Our traffic control closed off the ramp setting up cones and signs. We informed traffic management and they lit up the digital sign boards to inform travelers on the highway.”

The recovery crew then began positioning trucks for the recovery.

“We rigged our 1140 with Jared at the controls to the front of the tower,” explained Dustin. “We positioned our 1150 twin-steer with Mike at the controls in the center of the tower. At the rear of the tower was Mid Iowa’s 1150 with Wes and Austin at the controls. In the front we used our 5130 on the front jeep section ran by Alex and rear of the tractor with our 4024 ran by Cody on the front of the tractor.” The crew first removed the fuel from the tanks to avoid the possibility of any more contaminants leaking.

Once everything was positioned and a safe working environment was established the operators and ground personnel put on their Sonetics wireless headsets and began rigging. The rotators were rigged using 15-ton snatch blocks, 5/8-inch G100 chain, 1 ½-inch screw pin shackles and 12-inch x 26-foot double ply straps. The front trucks were rigged using 12-ton snatch blocks and 5/8-inch rim slings.

Dustin said, “We used a low line off of the 4024 to spike the front of the tractor down. Low lines were used on the 5130 to pull the rear tandems and jeep down. Both main lines off of the 1140 were doubled and rigged to lift the front of the tube while the drag winch was giving down pressure at the same time. Both high lines were used off our 1150 hooked to straps supporting and lifting the center of the tube. Mid Iowa’s 1150 used both main lines to create lift of the rear and its drag to spike the jeep.”

Once the unit was back on the ground, the rotators were used to support the tube while they pulled the complete unit out of the ditch and onto the road. Once on the road the drum was secured to the trailer. The transport company brought in a new road tractor.

“We removed the damaged tractor while still supporting the load and put the new one under it,” said Dustin. “Our crew reset three trailer tires. The damaged tractor was transported back to our lot for storage.”

With the new tractor successfully hooked to the unit it was transported to the nearest safe haven which was roughly 1-mile away. Once there Central used their two rotators to lift one end of the tower at a time to re-center it into the trailer. The company waited for day-break to finish the transportation of the tower.

Dustin informed, “The driver was OK as the incident was at a low speed. We never found a BOL (bill of laden) with the actual weights on it or a scale ticket. We were informed by a law enforcement official that their rolling scale had a 246k-pound load cross it in the right time frame.”

From start to finish the job took just over 8 hours 40 minutes including the drive time.

Dustin stated, “Two competing companies coming together was a very large key to the success of this recovery. We were all one team that day, no egos involved. Just one common goal and the drive to make it happen.”
…………………………………….

Dustin Tapp is the owner/manager/CEO of Central Iowa Towing & Recovery Inc. based in Ames, Iowa. Central Iowa Towing & Recovery is a full service, licensed towing company that serves Story County, Iowa and surrounding areas with a diversified fleet and knowledgeable staff equipped to handle any job, big or small.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Eagle Hooking on I-80

Eagle Hooking on I 80 TIW 10 5a288by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On September 26th, 2020, Norberg’s Towing of Green River, Wy., was called to recover a rear-ended truck from I-80, about 10 miles outside of town.

Norberg’s custom fleet includes some unique, purpose built, one-of-a-kind, no nonsense rigs. All are heavy-duty workhorses.

For this job, Shawn Norberg headed out in the Eagle, his 1998 Freightliner FL112 with a Don Hines bed and a Zacklift. Double framed and powered by a C12 engine mated to an 8LL trans, this hefty unit has a 46,000-pound rear end with full lockers on a walking beam suspension and an 18,000-pound steer axle.

Shawn explained, “The driver had pulled to the side of the road to have his tire fixed when another semi came up and rear-ended him, crushing the back-end of the trailer and going into the ditch down the road.”

Sunlite Service, another area company, was called by the Wyoming Highway Patrol to recover that semi while Norberg’s handled the rear-ended truck.

Shawn informed, “The trailer was loaded with metal crates that held the sub-frames of Tesla electric cars. Each weighing 2,500-pounds. The trailer doors were strapped shut to secure the load for transport.”

Shawn backed his wrecker to the rear of the trailer, pulled a line from the Eagle and wrapped it around the damaged trailer’s rear axle that had been pushed forward after being rear-ended and winched the axle back in place. Once the axle was in place and secured, the driver followed Shawn to his yard.

“The customer sent another trailer to our yard and I used my forklift to offload the casualty onto that trailer,” said Shawn. “Tried moving a stack of five, but was too much. It was slow going. Could have used a bigger forklift. I think it will be a good investment.”

------

Brothers Dale Sheridan Norberg, Jr. and Shawn Michael Norberg manage and operate Norberg's Towing Service in Green River, Wy., the family business their father Dale Sheridan Sr. and mother Elaine established in 1967. The brothers grew up in the business and from their mother, brothers, uncles, sons, and cousins, this is a family fully involved in the business from the oldest to the youngest, including Shawn’s little daughter, Billie. The Norberg family has handled every kind of situation from winch-outs to extreme recoveries in the rough Wyoming terrain.


Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Ole'12 Outstanding in the Field

1 ee512by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

At around 2 p.m. on September 22nd 2020, Battelini’s Garage Inc. was contacted by a customer to recover a dump trailer in a farm field in Elmer, NJ.

Albert Battelini explained, “My customer called and said he was dumping a load of powdered limestone when the trailer went over breaking away from the tractor.  It was just me and Ole12 on this job.”

Al responded with Unit #8212, his old reliable workhorse Ole12 wrecker, a 1982 Western Star set up with a 1986 3500 NRC heavy. It’s a 40-ton unit with a 3-stage fixed boom and a 35,000-pound under reach. It also has a 60,000-pound Braden drag winch. 

When Al arrived on scene, the customer was unloading what was left of the powdered limestone from the trailer.

After the trailer was emptied, Al rigged it for the lift. He explained, “I lifted the rear of the trailer with a rim sling thru the hand hole of the rear wheel to put a 20-foot X 8-inch nylon strap under the trailer with an aluminum strap shortener used as a floating shackle to V the strap under the trailer. It was terminated to the front wheel with a rim sling and to the landing gear with a 3/8 grade 100 chain. The top side was rigged the same way so I lifted it with one line and set it down with the other.”

Once upright Al rigged the trailer for transport and towed it to his customer’s yard.

He stated, “The Ole12 is the best unit we have ever owned and it still works every day. Very strong and still getting it done!”

------

Albert Battelini is the president of Battelini’s Garage Inc. (Battelini Transport & Towing Service) in Landisville, NJ. The company is co-owned by Albert, his brother Anthony and their father Dominick. This has been a family built, owned and operated business since grandpa Alesio Battelini started Battelini's Garage in 1921.

The family also runs Battelini Wrecker Sales, a full service dealer for NRC Industries and others, installing almost everything they sell in their facility.

The company now operates out of a five bay facility, runs 30 tractor/trailers ranging from lowboys and Landols to step decks and have 20 employees and a fleet of more than 20 wreckers. Besides their state-of-the-art equipment they have a collection of some awesome vintage iron that represents their many years of service excellence. This family is towing history with a fleet that does them and all of us proud.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!


MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
October 21 - October 27, 2020

Overcoming Emergency Brake Failure with Mico Brakes

micolock be596By Randall C. Resch

Fact: An emergency brake is only as good as its use and its working, mechanical condition.

In May 2018, a 3.2-million dollar lawsuit was levied against a tow company and major truck manufacturer as the result of a wrongful injury. The suit alleged a carrier’s E-Brake failed to hold as a carrier was parked. The carrier rolled downhill into another vehicle and the motorist was severely injured. The manufacturer blamed the tower; the tower blamed the manufacturer. Nonetheless, with the addition of an alternative E-Brake system, the injury and subsequent award may have been prevented.

All kinds of tragic situations can arise when either E-brakes fail or towers fail to use them. In 2019, when a tow operator stopped to make an adjustment to the vehicle in tow, the tow truck began to roll away, running over and killing the operator. In 2009, a carrier operator, returning to his shop at the end of a shift, didn’t set the truck’s E-Brake while its transmission was still in drive gear. As the operator opened the yard’s gate, the carrier began moving forward, pinning the tower between the carrier’s bumper and another vehicle. In 2002, a tow owner and 30-year veteran owner/operator were run-over by his own tow truck after his emergency brake failed to hold the truck in-place.

Clearly, when tow companies neglect to take care of their truck’s emergency brake systems, they are gambling with the lives of their personnel and the public. But when E-Brake’s work at optimum performance, they should hold the truck “in-place” when parked on level pavement. The more angled the driveway or road, the possibility of E-Brake failure increases and so chock blocks are a great addition when included in parking scenarios. Finally, you may want to consider using Mico Brakes (Mico Lever Locks) in conjunction with a truck’s E-brake system.

Mico Brakes are a hydraulic assisted E-Brake valve (add on) that, when the Lock's handle is activated and brakes are pumped, the pressure keeps the brakes applied like someone’s seated in the truck with their foot on the brakes. By design, Mico Brakes can be added to the truck's own emergency brake system(s). If the Mico Brake isn't maintained, though, they could bleed and not hold.

Early International's and GMC's that had transmission E-Brakes were famous for NOT holding. While modern tow trucks have better E-Brake systems, those old, iron tow trucks would certainly benefit from a Mico Brake or similar accessory to act as a secondary on-board system.

I believe in the extra safety the Mico Brakes (or any similar system) provide. I had them in all of my trucks as that backup system and they served me well. The same goes for Mico Brakes of old. But they are only as good as your company's maintenance and mandated use behind its purpose. 

For more information about the Mico Brake: https://www.mico.com/brake-lock-troubleshooting/lever-lock   

Daily Vehicle Inspections: Are They Really Needed?

checklist a98d6By Brian J Riker

As towers we spend a lot of time with our trucks, becoming very familiar with them and their quirks. We also often respond quickly when a call for service comes in due to the nature of our work. As such we may tend to overlook some basics such as the daily pre-trip inspection.

Is a daily pre-trip inspection actually required? Yes. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, specifically 392.7, require a driver to be satisfied a vehicle is safe and in good working order. The regulation has been interpreted to require daily pre-use inspection of the listed parts, accessories and systems of any commercial vehicle. This includes towed vehicles.

Specifically a driver must inspect, and be satisfied with the “good working order” of the following;

• Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
• Parking (hand) brake
• Steering mechanism
• Lighting devices and reflectors
• Tires
• Horn
• Windshield wiper or wipers
• Rear-vision mirror or mirrors
• Coupling devices
• Wheels and rims
• Emergency equipment

Additionally, the regulation also requires a driver to inspect all towed units for the same equipment regardless of the number of times a towed unit is exchanged or the distance towed. This means towers must inspect, as much as practical, each of these systems on every vehicle they tow with wheels on the ground.

So, what about the tow truck specific equipment like winch lines, straps, dollies and recovery equipment? I don’t see it listed above so I don’t have to inspect it, right? Wrong! Much of the tow truck specific equipment falls under either coupling devices (as tie down equipment, wheel lift, forks) or, in the case of dollies, wheels and rims.

In addition to the DOT requirements to inspect equipment prior to each use, several law enforcement contracts require a tower to respond with equipment that is in good working order. Even OSHA has a say in this, requiring operators to perform a pre-use inspection before using any type of tool or other equipment.

Even without regulations requiring a daily pre-use inspection it is good common sense to know the condition of your equipment. Whether you are an owner or employee, your livelihood and life depend on the condition of your truck and all the tools onboard. Having a faulty piece of equipment will cause you delays at best and injury or death to you and/or others at worst!

We have all seen the winch lines that are tangled up, kinked and in poor condition and know that is bad. Not only will that tangled mess keep you in harms way (side of the road) longer it may fail unexpectedly causing you to lose control of the vehicle you are winching.

What about other less obvious items on a tow truck?

One of the most often overlooked tools on a wrecker is the wheel dolly system. Most drivers dislike using dollies and try their best to forget they are even there until they really need them. This causes tires to be left low on air, wheel bearings to not be greased and other damages to be overlooked. [for more on dolly systems see the Nov. issue of American Towman Magazine]*

Bottom line, it is the driver’s responsibility to inspect their equipment before each shift to ensure it is in safe working order and they have all the proper tools and equipment necessary to properly do their job. Any deficiencies must be reported to the appropriate member of management immediately and safety critical deficiencies must be corrected before the equipment is used again.

Staying Safe from Fentanyl

170515151154 oh police officer overdose large 169 f5e52By Randall C. Resch

A recent news story causing a scare reported that several California Highway Patrol officers and one tow operator were allegedly exposed to deadly fentanyl while trying to aid a driver. After exposure, all six were transported to a San Francisco hospital with symptoms consistent with fentanyl exposure: convulsing, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, vision changes and more.

With fentanyl use on the rise across America, how should towers deal with motorists and potentially drug-tainted vehicles?

What is that?

Chances are you may have already towed a vehicle not knowing this potent opiod was inside and were lucky not to be exposed. If it were fentanyl, one could be dead even before identifying the product, as this lethal powder is eighty to one-hundred times stronger than morphine.

To the average city cop, highway patrol officer, firefighter, paramedic and tow operator, not knowing outward signs of the drug’s appearance makes its identity virtually impossible, as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of white powders on the commercial market.

It’s my guess that even the most astute and highly aware tow operator would hardly be able to tell the difference between plain, old kitchen counter cooking flour and what constitutes a deadly dose of fentanyl!

On closer examination of a pickup truck full of tools, was the white powder fentanyl or that of drywall dust from the worker’s boots? Or white, dried battery acid that dusted the top of a decomposing battery lying on the backseat floor? I think the odds are far greater that the average tower could identify a pipe-bomb than ever be able to identify fentanyl powder.

What’s Next?

If there’s an increased possibility of fentanyl poisoning, perhaps the industry’s immediate focus should be how-to load vehicles without ever having to go inside.

While my recommendation goes against the grain of safety, if you’re able to load the vehicle without going inside, don’t go inside. I realize that’s a risky process and violates your state’s securement laws, but the vehicle code doesn’t provide leeway to tow operator’s serving the law enforcement community. Prepare that multi point tie-down for safety and drive to your facility with caution. If that means asking the impounding officer to follow behind to avoid being stopped, that’s a reasonable action based on the circumstances.

Let California’s fentanyl scare be food for thought. Fentanyl exposure and deadly poisoning should be one of the first questions towers ask when arriving on-scene, especially when arrests are made. Every tow company should explore this topic for monthly safety training while putting into place protocols directing drivers in safety precautions.

Dealing with fentanyl requires increased training. Additionally it requires tow companies provide drivers and staff with expensive PPEs to protect against those "what-if" risks involved in-towing and storing towed vehicles. These are realities that the industry faces for the future. Like any illegal substance or drug of choice, fentanyl isn’t going away.
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October 21 - October 27, 2020

Undercurrents of Meaning

00 9c048By George L. Nitti

Symbolism found on tow trucks sometimes carries meaning beyond the public’s understanding.

For Brian Slesinski, Sr., owner of Fastlane Towing of Collingsville, Il., a 2017 T880 Kenworth Twin Steer 75 Ton Century Rotator with six winches was an opportunity to do something very special.

He said, “This was probably a once in a lifetime truck. There are lot of things that have meaning towards our business which you will find on it.”

Part of the essence of the design, skillfully rendered by airbrush artist Rhyno Templeton, replicates ingredients found on the 100 dollar bill, including the company name – “Fastlane Towing” - written above the United States of America, serial numbers that reflect the company’s DOT number, a 100 dollar symbol and other unique touches.

Slesinski explained, “In 2002, I left a company over a 100 dollar raise they refused to give me. I ended up leaving the company and starting my own. That is why the hundred dollars is on there.”

Instead of Ben Franklin, the icon of the $100 bill, Slesinski used the image of the Joker in order to symbolize that the joke is on you because he made it despite the challenges.

“When I left the company,” he said, “Nobody wanted to give me the money to start a towing company. It was a lot of hard work. My wife was answering the phones and my son was driving a small truck while I went out selling at night. I started the business in the basement of my home.”

Beautifully rendered symbolism of a Peterbilt truck is found on the hood of the rotator and provides tribute to a couple of generations of family members, underscoring Slesinski’s commitment to family values.

He said, “The design came from a tattoo on my arm. The stacks on my arm are wrenches giving tribute to my grandfather who was a mechanic and worked on tractor trailers. The air cleaners are paint guns with my Dad’s name because he was a painter of semi-trailers.”

On the visor of the Peterbilt is another family name while on the front bumper it states, “Family Tradition,” in an elegant, flowing script.

“My son, daughter, wife and sometimes grandson work here, including my son-in-law and daughter in law. We are family owned and operated.”

Over the image of the legal tender, a large tow chain envelops this giant green unit with modern, zig-zagging lines giving it further artistic flavor while on the side doors, in a niftily written font, it states the name of the company – “Fastlane.”

Slesinski said, “We’re always going and we don’t take days off. That’s how it is in our business…. But we do it for our kids and grandkids so that they can have a better life.”

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Going the Extra Mile with Bel Air Towing

00 82702By George L. Nitti

In the fast-growing environs of Hernando, MS, 15 miles south of Memphis, TN, also near the Arkansas border, Bel Air Towing prides itself on its customer service while specializing in damage free towing for luxury, classic and sports cars, imports and exotics, including hot rods.

A one-man operation, the one and ½ year old company has quickly found its niche, carved out by owner Jason Johnston, who has always had a passion for old cars.

He said, “I like anything vintage. I have built tons of cars and have had to call plenty of tow trucks to have them moved around.”

One classic car on the top of his list is the name he has given his company: the classic 57’ Chevy Bel Air.

He said, “It’s the ultimate car convertible for me.”

It’s no wonder then that on the side of the company’s 2014 MS Freightliner with a Century 21ft. flatbed, its jumbo-sized logo pays homage to Johnston’s passion, a design taken from the 57’ Chevy Bel Air itself, particularly the large, memorable scripted lettering at the beginning of each of the words in its name.

He said, “I know the lettering has a ‘Retro’ feeling. On the back panel of the bed, the logo is more embellished, with the crest of the 57’ Chevy sitting behind it on a black diamond plate. I get a lot of compliments. Some say ‘It’s the pretty truck going down the road.’”

The logo, done in 3M reflective vinyl by local company Signs and Stuff, was designed by Graphic Disorder, which according to Johnston is “super well known in the hot rod world.”

Johnston, who has been cultivating his niche, said, “Since I have a background in show cars (they are real low to the ground) I’m kind of known in that circle. Many tow companies don’t want to touch them because of the added liability. I get all of the crazy stuff like a Mercedes Benz with an electronic shifter that you can’t mechanically manipulate. I get cars for Corvette. You can sit there and watch me NOT tear it up. I specialize in that.”

Johnston’s foray as a tower began as a seedling 15 years ago, after talking to a buddy who owned a towing company in Kentucky. After a long-time stint as a managing supervisor in a company that folded, Johnston decided to form Bel Air Towing with a focus on customer service.

On the company website, one will find a quote from legendary Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach that states, “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

The “extra mile” refers to what Johnston calls customer service, the kind of service that gas station attendants provided when they came out to clean your windows and check your oil.

He said, “I’ve always been into good customer service. Around here if you are on a level 5, I want to be on a level 10. I do a lot of the extra stuff other companies won’t do.”

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Branding with a Bulldog

bulldog7 274e8George L. Nitti

When Mark Lopez, owner of Bulldog Towing of San Diego, Ca., started the company, branding was a paramount issue.

He said, “We decided to do a bulldog for the sake of branding. A lot of tow companies use people’s names like ‘Bob’s Towing,’ and I don’t believe people identify with that. We wanted a brand.”

Lopez, who has had approximately 30 years experience in the towing business said, “The name ‘Bulldog’ had been in the works for over 10 years, before we started the company.”

With the help of a family friend, a design was created, which would become the logo and brand recognition that Lopez and his partner, Caesar Esparza, sought.

On the hood and side doors of their 2019 Kenworth W900 Custombuilt 50 ton Wrecker is the striking, stand-out image of a muscular bulldog, done in an old English style.

Lopez said, “Obviously it is a favorite of ours. We are big fans of bulldogs. Bulldogs are hardheaded and stick with things. So do we.”

Complementing the bulldog throughout the wrecker is a military tribute theme, as two of the owners are ex-military, a couple of the tow operators, former marines, and one of the office employees, an army vet.

Lopez said, “As part of the wrap, we incorporated the American Flag along with camouflage. We are supporters of wounded warrior, which you will also find on the truck.”

This truck is similar to the other trucks in their fleet, as they are focused on promoting a consistency with their branding.

As for the day in and out challenges of owning his own company, Lopez said, “Even if I made less money I would still want to work for myself.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
October 21 - October 27, 2020

The Mico Lever Lock

ok 604b4The MICO Lever Lock, made by Mico, is designed to supplement a vehicle's standard parking brake by utilizing the hydraulic service brakes. Lever Locks are manually operated one-way check valves, which lock fluid under pressure in the selected brakes. Hand operation leaves the operator's feet free for clutch and throttle pedal operation. Lever Locks include one low pressure warning switch.

For more information, go to https://www.mico.com/brake-lock-troubleshooting/lever-lock

Webfleet Asset Tracking

webfleetassettracking product dba93Webfleet Solutions, one of the world’s leading telematics solution providers, is helping fleets reduce the risk of equipment theft and improper usage with a new capability for asset tracking within WEBFLEET. WEBFLEET Asset Tracking gives companies new ability to visualize the position and usage of their powered assets, such as trailers, generators and other equipment from a single interface with the position of vehicles and assets displayed on a clear map view.

With Asset Tracking, users can:

• Accurately locate assets
• Understand asset’s general usage for project handling
• Detect theft in time to take effective action
• Monitor their entire business from one interface.
• Track trailers that are not in use

With WEBFLEET Asset Tracking, fleet operators can choose to be alerted when an asset is being used, when it leaves a designated area or when any motion is detected. The user can find out the location of each asset in seconds, whether it’s on-site or off. Asset Tracking provides access to a detailed map, which provides visibility of where their assets have been, with position updates every five minutes on the map. If they want more detail, they can get instant reports 24/7 listing current position, trip, maintenance, input and all the other details regarding how the asset is being used. Customers can setup a maintenance notification based on the odometer, engine hours or time since the last maintenance – whatever is most suitable for judging that an asset needs to be serviced.

Trailers equipped with a LINK 340 device - a ruggedized tracker, which is dust, shock and waterproof - also provide coupled asset information, displayed automatically on the map for both truck and trailer. Users can easily identify which of their assets are connected to which vehicle, or which machine is being transported by which truck. This advanced new feature provides better control of the total transportation value chain for enhanced business efficiency, while increasing the accountability of drivers.

For more information, go to https://www.webfleet.com/en_us/webfleet/products/webfleet/features/asset-tracking/

H5R Work Headlamp

H5R Work Headlamp 668cdThe Ledlenser H5R Work Headlamp features natural color rendering and neutral white, flicker free light. Thanks to the Wheel Switch and the Ledlenser patented Advanced Focus System, light can be easily dimmed and focused to where it's needed most. The compact and rechargeable headlamp is equipped with protective covers, protective glass, and has a strong resistance to dust and water, ideal for a variety of demanding applications in industry and trade. 

For more information: https://www.vehicleservicepros.com/in-the-bay/tools-equipment/shop-equipment/cordless-worklights/product/21157334/ledlenser-h5r-work-headlamp
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October 21 - October 27, 2020
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October 21 - October 27, 2020

Nissan to Pay for Wrongful [b]Repossessions

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alleged that between 2013 and 2019, Nissan Motor’s lending unit “wrongly repossessed hundreds of consumers’ vehicles despite the consumer having made payment.” Although Nissan’s lending arm denied any wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $4 million to settle the allegations.

The CFPB charges include that Nissan repossessed vehicles within delinquency of 60 days when terms stipulated against that. In addition, they kept personal property in repossessed vehicles until consumers paid a storage fee, and deprived consumers paying by phone of the ability to select payment options with significantly lower fees."

The agency said actions violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act prohibition against unfair and deceptive acts and practices. The settlement imposes requirements "to prevent future violations and remediate consumers whose vehicles are wrongfully repossessed going forward," the bureau said.

https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/

Tow Truck Driver Busted [b]for Hazardous Tow

Tow truck driver Joshua Moralles was arrested for a hazardous tow involving a teenage girl in Miami.

Coming to repossess the car, Moralles backed up his wheel lift into the vehicle while it was moving and the driver still behind the wheel.

The teenage girl said, “He starts reversing into me, and I start reversing because I’m like he’s going to crash into my car, and he lifts me up, gets it on the tow truck and lifts it up and everything, like something out of a movie.”

As this scene was transpiring, the girl called the police, who showed up.

According to the police report, the tow truck driver’s account of what happened didn’t match up with video surveillance in the neighborhood and he was arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

https://wsvn.com/

Repo Men Encounter Gun [b]Shots in Georgia

In an attempt to repossess a 2011 Honda Accord on 9/24 in Athens, Ga., two repo men encountered gunshots, according to an Athens-County police report.

Repo man Michael Wilson and his partner located the vehicle and attempted to repossess it around 2:30 a.m.

At that time, the driver was in the car, and as Wilson approached to inform of the repossession, the driver “gassed” it, nearly hitting Wilson’s partner who was parked in a van. Then the driver stopped at an intersection.

“We heard three gunshots,” said Wilson, who sought safety in the nearby woods while his partner dropped to the ground.

Tracked by police, the car was found, along with heroin and methamphetamine, but the driver fled by foot.

Police have identified the 28-year-old Athens man and are pursuing warrants charging him with two counts of aggravated assault.

https://www.onlineathens.com/

Man Arrested for Assaulting [b]Repo Company

On Tuesday, 67 year old Christopher Denio was arrested by Bennington, Vt. Police after he allegedly threatened an employee of an auto repossession company with a rifle and shot out two tires of a company tow truck.

According to police dispatch, the repo men from Location Services, of Burnt Hills, N.Y. claimed that Denio tried to drive an SUV off the lift. Soon after, he obtained a rifle from a residence. When he returned, they stated that the barrel of the rifle was making contact with the driver side window while they were sitting inside the wrecker.

Denio then shot the driver side tire and passenger side tire, deflating each, telling the victims to "drop the SUV or I'll shoot you."

Denio was released on court-ordered conditions to appear in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division to answer to charges of aggravated assault with deadly weapon, criminal threatening, unlawful mischief; reckless endangerment; persons prohibited from possessing firearms, and aiming a gun at another person.

https://www.benningtonbanner.com/
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