Which is more important: a fire truck or a dump truck? It seems that the Environmental Protection Agency answered dump truck, as it has given that and other construction vehicles exceptions that it hasn’t given fire and emergency vehicles.
As part of the its National Clean Diesel Campaign, the EPA in 2010 enacted engine-emissions regulations for heavy-duty vehicles. Exempt from these regulations and related engine protocols are military vehicles and construction equipment.
The Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association cautioned fire chiefs about the new EPA campaign and its move toward greener engines. Besides adding $25,000 to $30,000 to the cost of a fire truck, the regulations require the addition of new diesel filters that could have serious implications and possibly disrupt emergency services.
At the time, many perceived the warning as “the sky is falling” proclamations, but fire chiefs now are seeing the performance problems these regulations are creating in ambulances and fire trucks.
From what I understand, when the diesel particulate filters on the engines become saturated, the engine must regenerate to burn off the build-up. A series of warning lights alert the operator for the need for regeneration. If regeneration doesn't begin within a specified time period, the motor will shut off and won’t restart for 30 minutes to one hour.
However, I’ve heard of situations in which the warning lights are ignored, or in which they light in quick succession, and the operator puts the engine in regeneration while on scene — rendering the vehicle inoperable. If the vehicle fails to regenerate, it requires a service call from the manufacturer. And replacing the diesel particulate filters (DPF) can cost between $5,000 and $6,000.
After repeated incidents, the’ Southeastern Division recently wrote to the EPA to request that fire trucks be exempt from the DPF requirement.
“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 letter states. “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.”
The Southeastern Division is encouraging others to join its campaign. If the military and construction industries can be exempt, why can’t the fire and emergency services?
Have you had problems with the regeneration process and your vehicles on scene?