A Day in the Life of an Oil Delivery Driver

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If you take your oil delivery driver for granted, read this.

Even though the September days still feel warm and balmy, the chilly air is just around the corner. The months of October through April make up the peak heating season in the Northeast. In fact, it’s estimated that residential customers will use 90% of their oil during these months.

So, as you get ready to switch your thermostats off AC to heat mode and make sure you have enough oil in your tank, you may want to think about what it takes to get it there and what you can do to make sure the process goes smoothly.

It’s not as simple as finding someone who can drive a truck. Oil delivery drivers must first be approved by the state and undergo extensive training by the company they work for.

To help understand the delivery process, we asked Jason Bausch, Levco’s Delivery Driver Supervisor who has been with the company over 20 years, to tell us about a typical day for him and his crew.

What time does an oil delivery truck driver’s day usually start and end?

I typically get up 4 am because I need to be at the office by 5 am. In winter, it’s not unusual to work at least 12-hour days.

Is there anything special an oil delivery driver needs to wear?

Oil companies want you to wear what the filling terminals require, based on their own insurance rules as well as local regulations. While filling the truck in Connecticut, a driver needs to wear a hard hat, steel toe boots and safety glasses. On deliveries, most drivers will also wear heavy gloves to protect their hands from the hose and oil.

How much driving does an oil delivery driver do in a typical day?

Depending on the number of deliveries on his route, and how far the route is from the terminal, a driver can log from 60 to 90 miles a day.

How many deliveries does an oil delivery driver usually do during the peak winter months?

There can be as many as 34 deliveries per day per truck!

What’s the first thing the oil delivery driver does when arriving at work?

Usually, drivers will go grab the key for the truck they are assigned to so they can get it warmed it up! At this time, they will also begin their pre-trip inspection, which is required by the state for any commercial vehicle. This involves filling out a check list that cover everything from the lights, the onboard computer and meter, hardware, the condition of the vehicle and the whistle pipe. It also includes making sure all relevant supplies, such as rags, degreaser, and spill equipment, are onboard. Then it’s back inside the office to hand in the checklist and pick up the delivery tickets – there will be one for each customer on the day’s scheduled route. (Customers get automatic deliveries based on Levco’s proprietary system that calculates and schedules the appropriate time for delivery based on numerous factors, including oil delivery history, the size of the tanks, and the weather.)

Then the driver goes back to the truck and heads for the oil terminal to pick up the first load of the day.  There are currently three terminals operating in CT – one in Stamford, one in New Haven and one in Bridgeport. Which one you fill at is determined by the office, based on cost, allocation, and contracts. A driver will usually fill up the truck at least twice per day.

Describe the oil delivery truck filling process.

To enter the filling station, Driver must show their government issued TWIC (Transportation Workers Identification Card) to enter the filling station. No one can pick up fuel without this card. Then, the truck needs to be grounded by plugging in a grounding cable. This helps prevent an explosion from the fumes. Oil itself is not flammable, but the facility will also have other fuels, such as – jet fuel, gas, kerosene, or propane in other tanks nearby. These other fuels can be more volatile. Next, the driver climbs onto the rack to reach the top of the tank truck, where the fill hole is, drops in the straw (a metal piece that the oil comes through). Then they go over to the computer, enter their driver ID number, their driver pin number, the company they are buying the oil for, who its being purchased from, and how much oil they are buying. This will vary based on the amount the truck holds (usually 3000-3400 gallons) and how much is left in the tank). Once the oil is loaded, they are ready to hit the road to start their delivery route.

Describe the filling process at a customer’s home.

The driver needs to back the truck into the driveway so they can safely position the truck during the delivery and when pulling out. Then they locate the fill pipe, pull the hose to the pipe, hook up the hose, turn the meter on the truck to run, go back to the nozzle and turn dial. The driver must stay near the nozzle so they can hear the whistle. If there is no whistle, there’s no delivery.

What’s the whistle?

During a heating oil delivery, as oil goes into the tank, it will push air out. All oil storage tanks are fitted with an oil tank vent alarm. This emits a whistling sound. When the whistle stops, the tank is at capacity. How strong the whistle is can depend on how far away the tank is from the fill pipe. The driver may need to amplify it by controlling the speed at which the oil is delivered or cup their hand over the pipe to control the escaping air. It’s an important safety measure and a critical step in the delivery process.

How heavy is the oil delivery hose?

The hose is about 175 feet long, and together with the nozzle it weighs between 100-150 pounds. It’s not an easy thing to navigate, especially if you have to pull it up a hill or if the ground is icy!

What is your favorite part of the oil delivery driver job?

Personally, I enjoy the service we offer. It’s rewarding to me knowing that we provide heat to keep our customers warm. When people come out to say thanks, or ask a question, it feels like we are really helping.

Least favorite part of the job?

The snow and ice! It’s very stressful to navigate the truck these conditions. But Levco uses tire Onspot chains, which the state requires all school buses and firetrucks to have. It’s not a regulation for oil trucks, but Levco goes the extra mile to make sure their drivers as well as their customer’s property are as safe as possible.

Is there anything customers can do to prepare for a delivery and make it easier for oil delivery drivers?

It’s a CT state law that there must be a clear and safe path to the fill. But, in an effort to hide the pipes, many times customers plant bushes in front so the area looks nicer. This not only restricts our access, but if the bushes have prickers or thorns, drivers can get hurt. It’s best to leave the area open, to avoid injury to the driver and damage to the bush from the heavy hose. In addition, customers should plow driveways and clear a path to fill pipe through the snow.

Should customers come out to say hi when the oil delivery truck arrives?

Sure. Customers don’t need to be at home for deliveries. But if they are, it’s a good time for them to ask questions so we can help them understand the delivery process. And we love getting to know the homeowners and showing them the Levco Difference.

What happens if a dog is outside during a delivery?

If a customer knows that a delivery is being made that day, they should keep pets inside, even if the dog is friendly. I love dogs and don’t mind them being there. But some drivers are afraid and will have to call the customer to take the pet inside, which can delay the delivery. Keeping them inside also eliminates the unnecessary risk of injury to the driver and the animal.

What happens if you can’t get to the fill pipe?

We will do everything we can to get to the fill pipe. But if it isn’t accessible, we cannot deliver. That’s why it’s helpful for the customer to do all they can to make sure the path is clear. 

Levco Delivers

Levco provides safe and timely heating oil deliveries to thousands of homeowners throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties. Our customers trust Levco’s expertise, reliability and unwavering dedication to safety.

We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all your home or business HVAC service needs. With a full fleet of trucks and technicians located in Trumbull, we are in your neighborhood almost everyday! Get in touch with a member of our team by calling (203) 533-8249 or filling out this form.

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Levco is the premier provider of heating & cooling service as well as fuel oil and propane delivery in Fairfield County, CT.

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Phone: (203) 533-8249

Email: service@levcooil.com

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