ROCHESTER, Minn. - Fire trucks are iconically red, but two of Rochester's newest fire apparatuses are helping the city go green.
The Rochester Fire Department recently retired two vehicles and replaced them with truck 42 and engine 5. These vehicles have new technology to be more environmentally friendly.
"We get on a scene whether on a highway or at a house. We're double-parked. We're a traffic hazard," explains Fire Chief Eric Kerska. "We leave the lights on. We're required by law to have the emergency lights on. They take a lot of battery power."
An analysis found RFD's average call lasts roughly 20 minutes. During the majority of that call, the apparatuses sit idling, wasting fuel. Conventional batteries don't solve the problem, because they don't allow emergency lights and climate control to stay on.
RFD emergency vehicle technician Jeremy Leisenheimer looked a the problem and brainstormed a new concept. "I didn't really like the idea of adding another diesel engine. Just more to maintain. I knew of other idle reduction systems using batteries and I found some others that we looked at. Then I just went to Pierce and said we're buying this truck, this is kind of what I'd like. I pointed out some locations where I thought systems would work and engineering kind of took over from there," he explains.
With Leisenheimer's idea, Pierce manufactured a new idle reduction system, which are installed in truck 42 and engine 5. The system shuts down the diesel engine after about five minutes and switches to lithium-ion batteries.
After driving truck 42 for a year, RFD found the technology cuts down 60% of idle time which amounts to about $3,000 worth of diesel fuel annually and 6 tons of carbon reduction.
Diesel engines starting in cold weather is still a concern, but this system monitors the temperature of the engine. If it gets too low, it restarts.
"We have big heavy trucks that use a lot of fuel. It just seemed the right thing to do. It's a focus of the community. It's a focus area of the city council and so this we felt was a stepping stone towards someday in the not too distant future perhaps a fire truck that's a hybrid that drives on batteries instead of just powers lights," says Chief Kerska.
To learn more about Pierce's idle reduction technology, click more. It's currently an option on new apparatus and as an aftermarket add-on.