The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has been actively working with county and municipal governments to retrofit their fire trucks, ambulances and other diesel vehicles with emissions control equipment. Using funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Sensitive Population Grant and additional state funding, the City of Annapolis was able to retrofit nine fire trucks and ambulances, Montgomery County retrofitted seven dump trucks and 16 fire trucks, and the City of Baltimore retrofitted 49 fire trucks and ambulances. Utilizing Baltimore employee labor enabled the city to spend all its funds on the retrofit devices. The purpose of the retrofit equipment is to reduce the exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulate matter from diesel-fueled vehicles.
“Since fire trucks and ambulances are often responding to citizens vulnerable to heart or respiratory problems, who may feel effects from exposure to diesel exhaust, it stands to reason that making those vehicles run cleaner is sensible,” explained Lonnie Richmond of MDE’s Mobile Sources Control Program.
Clean is in the Air…
MDE chose to lead by example in treating exhaust from its own fleet of diesel-fueled equipment and dedicated part of the sensitive population grant toward retrofitting five emergency response trucks and an air compressor.
MDE’s emergency response vehicles and the employees staffing this unit perform various duties to protect Maryland’s land, water and air from hazardous materials that can contaminate the environment. These materials include fuel spills at marinas and gasoline stations, tractor-trailer accidents, oil spills in waterways from sunken boats and fuel tanker rollovers on roadways. MDE’s Emergency Response Team is also a first responder to accidents that may release harmful contaminants that would pose a safety risk to firefighters and police, such as the train tunnel fire that occurred in Baltimore City in 2001.
“It made sense to retrofit our response trucks to reduce emissions,” said Neil Jones of MDE’s Emergency Response Unit. “When we take these trucks on the road to respond to problems, the engines continually run to power the equipment we need to perform our work. We have radio systems, the emergency lights need to be on when we’re working on roadways, and we have flood lights which need power from our generator when we’re working at night.”
“We also have three boats in our emergency response fleet,” explained Jones. “One is kept in the Baltimore Harbor and we keep two on trailers here at Montgomery Park headquarters.” MDE is currently investigating ways to reduce emissions from these vehicles as well.
A Vroom with a View
Reducing the emissions overall from boats and trucks helps the environment and further benefits the health of the people who use this equipment to perform this important work.