Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (February 25, 2005) – Fire trucks and ambulances operating in Baltimore will be emitting less harmful pollutants, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today with the City of Baltimore.

A $75,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combined with additional state funds will make it possible for Baltimore City to retrofit more than 60 fire trucks and ambulances with advanced emission reduction devices.

“This project will have an immediate and noticeable impact on Baltimore,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “The air will be cleaner in the communities served by these emergency response vehicles. This project will benefit both the general population, firefighters and other key fire department personnel that work along side these apparatus everyday.”

The federal funding – $75,000 plus $25,000 in matching funds from MDE – comes from an EPA program that pays for projects across the country that demonstrate the applicability of advanced emission reduction technologies on diesel fleets affecting sensitive populations. “It is encouraging to see different levels of government working together to address issues affecting our communities, and I thank the EPA for acknowledging and supporting our efforts,” Secretary Philbrick added.

The money will be used to install diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs) and closed crankcase ventilation filtration (CCVF) systems on fire trucks and ambulances. Retrofitting Baltimore City fire trucks and ambulances with the DOC/CCVF systems will result in reductions of 3.78 tons per year of volatile organic compounds, 0.10 tons per year of particulate matter and 34.7 tons per year of carbon monoxide emissions. This will be one of the first programs of its type in the country to retrofit fire engines and ambulances with advanced emission reduction devices.

MDE’s proposal was one of 18 selected from among 83 applications, according to EPA Regional Administrator for Region III Donald S. Welsh.

“We congratulate the Maryland Department of the Environment for taking a major step in protecting the health of Maryland residents. Retrofitting Baltimore’s emergency vehicles will reduce the amount of smog and particle pollution in Baltimore, one of the most heavily-traveled urban corridors in the mid-Atlantic region,” said EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh.

The Baltimore City Fire Department protects and serves more than 650,000 residents in an area of 81 square miles. During the last calendar year, the department’s communications office dispatched 151,481 incidents that accounted for 224,750 unit dispatches with an average of 500 to 600 calls dispatched every day.

“The Diesel Retrofit Oxidation and Filtration System in combination with the Plymovent Exhaust Systems at our fire stations will significantly improve air quality and reduce carbon monoxide and air toxic emissions in and around Baltimore,” said Baltimore City Fire Chief William Goodwin.

One of the considerations in the decision to target city fire trucks and ambulances, Secretary Philbrick said, is due to their very nature, emergency vehicles constantly work in environments containing “sensitive populations” such as children, the elderly, and the chronically ill. This population is at a greater risk for increased, concentrated exposure to diesel exhaust emissions. This project is designed to coordinate efforts by MDE and other local governments to solve a range of environmental issues- including emissions from diesel engines.

The City of Baltimore will begin retrofitting its vehicles by the summer.