Last October, the fire trucks and emergency equipment excluded from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Clean Diesel Campaign. The EPA’s campaign, enacted in 2010, set engine-emission regulations for heavy-duty vehicles, excluding only military and construction vehicles.’ Southeastern Division (SEAFC) began lobbying to have
“Fire apparatus are going into ‘regeneration’ at the scene of fires to begin the burn off process causing units to shut down, thus leaving firefighters with no water to fight a fire until replacement units can arrive,” the SEAFC letter stated. “This situation could cause the loss of life to a fire fighter or to a taxpayer who is depending on the fire engine reaching them in time to save them and their property.”
SEAFC began the campaign following the report on the San Diego fire truck that shut down on scene, according to Dan Cimini, retired assistant chief for Myrtle Beach, S.C. Fire departments throughout the southeastern region also had reported problems with the regeneration process of the engines and spurred on SEAFC.
“For volunteer departments this is particularly troublesome because they are told that when the light goes on, you cannot interrupt the regeneration process,” he said.
In a surprising move last week, EPA Director Lisa Jackson signed the “EPA Relief for Fire Trucks and Ambulances Emission Control Systems” document. In a proposal mirrored in a direct final action, the EPA is offering regulatory flexibility for dedicated emergency vehicles and their engines, related to implementation of EPA’s 2007/2010 criteria pollutant standards.
According to the EPA Fact Sheet, “emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks would no longer face power disruptions related to their diesel emission control systems.” The sheet also contains an overview of the emergency vehicle flexibility as well as the other elements of EPA’s proposed action: SCR maintenance provisions and regulatory flexibility for non-road equipment used during emergency responses.
“EPA is offering engine manufacturers the flexibility to avoid such abnormal conditions and ensure that there will not be emission-related power loss on emergency vehicles,” the fact sheet read. “In doing so, EPA is helping manufacturers to address a potentially serious public safety issue.”
EPA is proposing revisions that would allow manufacturers to request and EPA to approve modifications to emissions control systems on new and in-use emergency vehicles so they can be operated as intended, without reduced performance during emergency situations. For new engine or vehicle certifications, these improved controls or settings would generally be approved as auxiliary emission control devices (AECDs). For in-use engines and vehicles, EPA is proposing to allow engine and vehicle manufacturers to submit requests for EPA approval of Emergency Vehicle Field Modifications.
While EPA is accepting comment on all parts of the rule, EPA is also publishing the provisions for dedicated emergency vehicles in a Direct Final Rule. This means that separable emergency vehicle provisions that do not receive adverse comment will become final 60 days from publication in the Federal Register. EPA will withdraw the parts of the direct final rule that receive adverse comments, and respond to all comments as part of a final rule.
The EPA expects that environmental impacts from the new action would be small and no anticipated adverse environmental impacts from the SCR maintenance proposal.
You can access the direct final rule, the proposed rule and related documents from the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.