PORTLAND, Maine — If you see a city plow truck out and about in Portland, don't panic, crews are just getting ready for winter.
The city is training about seven new drivers for the winter season.
with a trainer, learning the ins and outs of the truck and what it's capable of.
Snow is not in the forecast---yet. But new city plow drivers need to be ready for it.
"This is the easiest way to do it when there is nothing on the ground when not everyone else is out and you're not in a rush."
Bob Wassick is the Safety and Training Administrator for Portland Public Works.
"You're driving a 14-foot wide truck with a plow and wing in snow and ice conditions with the public, and it weighs about 60,000 pounds with sand on it," Wassick says.
Dave Sallee is one of the new drivers. He's been working at Portland Public Works for about 7 months.
"I think the hardest thing about it just understanding where the wing gets down. Understanding how close I can get to the cars. The hardest part is navigating around the vehicles" Sallee says.
Keith Emery, Maintenance Worker 3 at Portland Public Works, has been plowing snow since the late '70s. He is helping to train the new drivers.
"This gives them a rough idea of where to set for a curb, to watch out for obstacles in the roadway, especially manholes because as frost works they move and if they (drivers) hit them they can launch."
Emery says it's not easy maneuvering a commercial plow truck, navigating streets in a city made up of residential neighborhoods, and the busy sometimes narrow streets of Portland's peninsula. Even when those streets are clear of ice and snow.
"Every snowstorm is different. Some might be fluffy snow, but if you add wind to it you'll get drifting and when you come up to a drift...that's packed hard it will slide a truck or a loader, anything with a wing on it it will slide you sideways" Emery said.
The weather is just one of the many things a plow driver has to focus on.
"You always have to keep aware of your surroundings," Sallee says.
He also hopes all the other drivers will do the same.
"A lot of people underestimate how much work goes into it, how much preparation, training, but we're all in this together. We all work as a team and we get it done as efficient and effective as possible."
The training, which consists of some classroom work, is expected to continue for the next two months.