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FDNY Honors Queens Mechanic Who Saved City $700,000

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A mechanic for the New York City fire department is being honored for saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars through his ingenuity.

Jomar Pichardo's job is to keep the city's fleet of EMS ambulances running while working out of the department's garage in the Long Island City section of Queens.

"I just like tinkering with stuff, so if I see something that can be fixed I'll pretty much find a way to fix it," Pichardo said.

He has saved the FDNY more than $700,000 annually by inventing ways to refurbish ambulance batteries and car parts that would normally be tossed away and replaced.

Pichardo created a charging room to squeeze extra life out of ambulance batteries, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

"As soon as they were drained down it was replacement immediately. Now they get tested and if they're good they go back in service," Pichardo said.

Expensive emissions components used to be replaced when they became dirty, but Pichardo said he developed a program to clean those parts so they could be reused in the vehicles.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro is to honor the 31-year-old Pichardo during the FDNY's Administrative Medals and Awards ceremony on Thursday.

The three-year department employee will be awarded the Jack Lerch Award for saving the FDNY so much money.

But Pichardo doesn't want to take all the credit.

"We all work together to make sure the vehicles go out as soon as possible," he said. "We have a great crew here, we have great management."

Pichardo has pledged to pinch even more pennies.

"We'll come up with more great ideas to save the city money," Pichardo said.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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