Wildfire season is unpredictable in Arizona and Southeastern California. Luckily, our states have amazing heroes who step in to fight the fires every season. One of those heroes happens to be Empire Cat client, Mann’s Clean Up Service.
Here's Their Story...
One spark can lead to devastating destruction in the form of a wildfire. On the other hand, one spark can also ignite a passion for stepping in to help.
Mann’s Clean Up Service has that spark.
For 20 years, owner Pat Mann has been on the frontlines helping fight alongside Hot Shots in his Cat D6M dozer.
“I started in 1990 with the Dude Fire. We were slow and I wanted to volunteer my time. Right away, I got a contract with just my pick-up driving supplies,” Pat explained. “Then I got to know the firefighters. They’re great people, very down to Earth. I continued to help. 2000 was the first year we put iron in the fire.”
Fast forward to 2013, Pat’s daughter, Cortnee, started to show that same spark of stewardship at age 16. At age 20, she joined Pat on the frontlines in a Cat 320E LRR excavator.
“My dad and I, we’re good buddies. He’s my best friend,” Cortnee said. “It’s been nice to step in and work beside him.”
At 23 and only 5’4”, Cortnee is currently the youngest female heavy equipment operator in our region for wildland fire. Many ask, “What’s this little kid doing out here?” but Pat wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My bond with my daughter is very strong. When we’re at fires, I’m more comfortable as an operator knowing she’s aware and has my best interest,” Pat said.
Like Cortnee, Empire has also been by Pat’s side along the way.
“Empire as a whole understands that these Cat machines are for firefighting and they bend over backward to get things done and out quickly,” Pat explained.
During prime wildfire season in the summer, Mann’s Clean Up Service’s goal is help stop the progress of fires by cutting lines to stop the spread. In the winter, it’s all about getting ready for the next season by checking the equipment for any needed repairs (lines/filters/tracks).
This year was a particularly busy summer season for Mann’s Clean Up Service.
“The first fire we helped was back in February. We were up at the Grand Canyon helping with the Mangum Fire when the Bush Fire broke out and couldn’t make it down for that one,” said Pat. “We also just returned from fighting the August Complex Fire in California.”
Dennis McGrath is Mann’s Clean Up Service’s Product Support Representative, ready to tackle their needs as they arise.
“It is great to work with a company and family that takes pride in the same values that Empire represents,” Dennis explained. “There is not a more unpredictable career than firefighting and we are built for 24/7/365. Our team is built to help keep Mann’s Clean Up Service second to none in their field.”
Good communication, efficiency and astonishment are the keys to ensuring Mann’s Clean Up Service success. If a machine goes down, they only have 24 hours to ger things back up and running or they get released.
“I blew a hydraulic line in my Cat excavator at the Mangum Fire and Dennis had the line ready to go in the morning for the next shift” Cortnee said.
Added Pat, “I just dropped off our dozer on returning from California to get it serviced and Dennis and Mike Rayala squeezed it in so we could get right back out. Dennis likes to remind us that these machines weren’t made to handle what we do but he has helped us build them better, stronger.”
Firefighting may not be on the task list for Cat machines, but Pat has taken great lengths to care for his machines from running higher weight oils to combat the heat, to frequent oil sampling.
In January 2019, the Empire Fluids Lab received a high particle count in the transmission on Pat’s Cat dozer.
“In Pat’s world, there is no room for error. We removed the transmission and sent it to our Component Rebuild Center (CRC) Shop. After failure analysis, we found the bevel gear to be chipped and cracked on multiple teeth. To say that this dozer was living on borrowed time is an understatement,” Dennis said. “I cannot think of a higher honor than Pat trusting our Conditioning Monitoring team, CRC specialists, and General Construction shop. He allowed us to monitor and take responsibility for the health of his machine, which is responsible to keep our land, Hot Shots, and Northern homes safe!”
Empire has also wowed Mann’s Clean Up Service with our genuine support for their business. When Mann’s Clean Up Service hosted a fire safety class for the Mesa Interagency Hot Shot Crew, Dennis, Billy Pikula and Casey Lincoln also attended.
“Casey took time out of his day to explain blind spots in the dozer and excavator to the boots on the ground as many of the Hot Shots had never been in the equipment,” Dennis said. “It was our pleasure to assist the men and women that put their lives on the line to protect our state.”
It doesn’t look like Mann’s Clean Up Service’s spark will be going out anytime soon.