Three grants are enabling Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority (WA) to work toward making the fleet more environmentally friendly.
Kent has made changes to reduce the amount of diesel exhaust fire engines emit into the atmosphere with grants provided by the state Department of Ecology Clean Diesel Grant Program.
The first grant was used to install crankcase ventilation filter systems in the apparatus. The system works by redirecting engine gasses that would normally be expelled into the atmosphere through a filter that removes oil contaminants. The remaining gasses are then sent back through the combustion system and incinerated.
Funding for the installation of catalytic converters also known as Diesel Oxidation Catalysts in diesel engine fire apparatus was provided by the second state grant. A catalytic converter works by changing much of the carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons that diesel engine exhaust contains into carbon dioxide and water. The catalytic converters can reduce emissions by as much as 80 percent.
The third grant is being utilized to install idle reduction systems in the apparatus. An idle reduction system shuts off the diesel engines of vehicles after they have been parked with the engine running for more than three minutes.
Two types of systems are being installed. One type, for the department’s aid cars, uses auxiliary batteries to keep emergency lights running at scenes after the idle reduction system has shut off the engine. The system automatically will restart the apparatus engine to recharge the batteries if it senses a predetermined drop in voltage.
The second system is designed for the larger vehicles such as fire engines and ladder trucks. It utilizes a small diesel generator mounted on the apparatus to power the emergency lights and other essential systems once the engine shuts down.
A fire engine running at idle for an hour burns approximately three to four gallons of diesel fuel. A fire engine outfitted with an idle reduction system will burn one-third of a gallon of fuel during the same time period.
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