New EPA standards loom for fire trucks

New regulations involve fuel efficiency and more reduction in carbon emissions


Just when you thought we'd dealt with all of the EPA's regulations regarding diesel engines in 2010, more are coming in 2014.

To start, let's backtrack even further. Back in 2007, we encountered the DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) addition to diesel-powered trucks. We all became science chemistry specialists trying to understand the differences between Detroit Diesel, Cummins, Volvo and Mack using SCR and Navistar using EGR.

Now, thanks to the federal government and the EPA, we have another road to follow — and with it, I'm sure, additional costs to bear if you are going to order a new piece of fire apparatus in 2014.

Looking back to 2007 and 2010, many departments held back on purchasing trucks to see how these new engines with the new technology would hold up. Manufacturers were stockpiling the older engines and selling more apparatus the year before the two standards took place.

Will we see this happen again? More than likely. No one likes change, especially if it is going to add costs to a vehicle. Remember, it not only affected the engine technology, but in some cases involved manufacturing a bigger cab and finding a place to mount the DEF Tanks, as well as designing larger grills and vents to make sure the engines stayed cool.

I am sure the engine manufacturers are already getting a huge head start designing and testing these new concepts as we speak.

The new standards involve fuel efficiency and more reduction in carbon emissions, which will be phased in from 2014 to 2018. The new joint standard was proposed by the EPA and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The greenhouse emissions regulations are supposed to cut emissions by up to 20 percent for heavy duty trucks and 7 to10 percent for medium duty vehicles. I guess the jury will be out for a long time to see if this new standard also reduces fuel consumption as well, something we would all welcome with gasoline and oil prices being how they are.

If it does, will it offset the additional cost we will have to pay for the added engineering and technology costs designing these new engines again. Will these engines require additional cooling or added equipment?

Only time will tell, and the manufacturers — who must have had a challenging time of it in the past few years with the new regulations — will no doubt begin working on these latest requirements in the coming months.

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