|The East Point (GA) Fire and Rescue Department’s new engines feature GREEN Star Idle Reduction Technology (IRT), employing an auxiliary power unit to reduce main chassis engine idling. [Photo courtesy of the East Point (GA) Fire and Rescue Department.]|
There are many reasons to begin looking into technology that preserves the environment. At East Point (GA) Fire and Rescue Department, Chief Rosemary Cloud was following a directive but also wanted to blaze a trail. “I wanted to take the lead and be out front and embrace environmentally friendly technology,” she says. “And, the mayor, the city council, and the city manager adopted the state’s environmentally friendly policy. This was an initiative to set the trend on being environmentally conscious.” The initiative in question was purchasing two engines from Rosenbauer America that incorporate the manufacturer’s “GREEN Star Idle Reduction Technology (IRT).”
At the heart of the GREEN Star IRT system is an auxiliary power unit (APU), which is a diesel generator. The unit reduces idle time by up to 90 percent, saving fuel and service costs and reducing pollution, according to Harold Boer, chief executive officer, Rosenbauer North America, South Dakota Division. “Rosenbauer developed an automatic control system that automatically shuts down the main chassis engine when the unit arrives on scene, the operator sets the parking brake, and the fire pump is not engaged,” he says. “This type of response makes up approximately 90 percent of all emergency calls.”
Cloud concurs. “As you know, just standing by idling is what we usually use most of the fuel for—just standing by on the fire scene,” she says. “That’s usually how we use up most of our fuel. It’s not getting to the fire scene, leaving the fire scene, or working on the fire scene. It’s being at idle. When [rigs] are at idle, they consume a lot of fuel and produce emissions. Although it may be one feature that is environmentally friendly, it’s a huge feature.”
According to Boer, the APU uses approximately one quart of fuel per hour vs. more than a gallon per hour for the main chassis engine. So, the APU “saves fuel; reduces the hours of operation of the diesel particulate filter, extending the service life of it; and reduces regeneration, while producing far less emissions than the chassis engine,” he says. Once the automatic control system engages the GREEN Star APU, it takes over the 12-volt system, allowing for full operation of all warning lights and systems, the 120-/240-volt system for scene lighting and other devices, and maintaining heating and cooling of the chassis cab.
The two pumpers are custom rescue-pumpers that feature 1,500-gpm pumps, foam generators, and aluminum bodies built by the Rosenbauer South Dakota plant. They are painted black over red and also feature power ladder racks. Centurion bodies sit on Spartan Gladiator chassis, and the rigs have Waterous pumps, 750-gallon tanks, Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines, and Allison 4000 EVP transmissions. The rescue-pumpers also carry Command Lights that, according to Cloud, eliminate the need for a separate light truck. “On a fire scene at night, this is extremely important,” she says. “Many fire departments have light trucks. But, with these new trucks we can illuminate an entire city block.”
Future for East Point Green
East Point Fire and Rescue runs three engines and two ladders, two rescue units, a backup fleet, a command vehicle, and chief and deputy chief vehicles. Cloud says that moving forward, the department will continue to spec out apparatus with environmentally friendly technologies. “My department is very small, and we just purchased two new pieces of equipment,” she says. “We only have three stations, but this goes into our apparatus replacement cycle. So when we do replace the older equipment, we will be using idle reduction technology and we will be looking to see what other features are available in terms of being environmentally friendly. I think that’s the next step for all of us.” The next units the department will add are ambulances that will also act as rescue units.
Green’s Future in the Fire Service
Boer asserts that right now idle reduction is a cost-effective green initiative. “GREEN Star adds very little cost to a comparably equipped unit,” he says. He adds that given the unique circumstances of the fire and emergency service, from prolonged idle time to prolonged pumping at full capacity, there is not much in green technology available to the fire service. “Hybrids and electric would not have the ability to do prolonged pumping, which can be more than 10 hours,” he says. “Compressed natural gas does work, but on a prolonged incident, refueling can be an issue.”
Cloud points to government mandates as reasons she expects the fire service to continue to seek and spec out environmentally friendly features on apparatus. “Air quality regulations such as the federal Clean Air Act have led to significant progress over the last few decades,” she says. “To be progressive in the fire service and to lead it in this regard is a good thing. The notion of sustainability is critical for our fire department’s operations and recognizing our striving to do no more damage. The expectation is going to be that you come in and mitigate an issue. But when you come in, you don’t create other issues. So, I think that’s going to generally be the attitude of the fire service and leaders of the fire service.”
Boer adds, “Rosenbauer recognized the impact that the 2010 emission standards were going to have on the fire service and introduced GREEN Star in 2010,” he says. “Today, as the effects of the new emissions are being felt, more and more departments are requesting it. Also, many states have ‘green’ money available to help with the purchase of units with green technology. Chiefs just need to go looking for it.”
CHRIS Mc LOONE, associate editor of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, is an 18-year veteran of the fire service and a captain with Weldon Fire Company (Glenside, PA). He has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years. While with Fire Engineering, he contributed to the May 2006 issue, a Jesse H. Neal Award winner for its coverage of the Hurricane Katrina response and recovery.