Experts: No Big Changes in 2014 EPA Emissions

ORLANDO – The 2014 federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations regarding engine emissions, especially for fire apparatus, are not as onerous as feared, said engine manufacturers’ representatives at a Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) annual apparatus symposium workshop

Chris Crowel, the emergency vehicle market leader for Cummins Inc., and Randall Ray, marketing manager for Navistar Corp., gave a presentation on EPA engine regulations for 2014. Tim Johnson, the southern region sales manager for Rosenbauer America, joined in the conversation as well.

“The big news for 2014 is there not much change,” Crowel said. He added the new regulations are expansions and refinements of existing rules.

And, another bit of good news, Crowel said, is the fact the federal government has relaxed some of the aspects of the regulations for fire apparatus. He said fire apparatus still needs to be complaint and there are no waivers or exemptions from the emissions rules. However, one big concession is fire apparatus and emergency vehicles won’t “de-rate” or loose horsepower and shut down like over the road vehicles do when they run out of diesel emissions fluid (DEF) or need to regenerate.

“They’ve figured out that we’re not tractor trailers, we’re not dump trucks,” said Johnson.

New apparatus equipped with the latest, compliant emissions must still do “regens” or burn off soot and emissions with high exhaust temperatures, but because apparatus are considered vocational vehicles, they can have scheduled regenerations that won’t interfere with operations.

Ray said fire apparatus can do regenerations when they are in PTO, or pumping modes as long as the temperatures are sufficiently high with no adverse effects to operations.

“You should be good if you let them do what they want to do,” Ray said, noting that trying to defeat or circumvent emissions programs could result in costly damage to the apparatus.

Crowel said it’s better that departments and the people who service fire apparatus get used to the emissions systems because they are not going away.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and DEF are here to stay, he said.

“We can’t do it any longer with EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) and meet the federal emissions requirements,” Crowel said.

As the EPA moves closer and closer to zero emissions for all vehicles, all the experts are expecting to see tightening of the regulations. Another round is scheduled for 2017 and they could be far more onerous than the 2014 regulations.

“We know they’ll do something, but what we don’t know just yet,” Crowel said.

Another aspect of emission regulation the reduction of tire resistance to improve fuel economy. It’s aimed at over the road trucks, but it could affect fire apparatus, the experts agreed.

While there are no requirements for fire apparatus to have super efficient tires, tire companies could stop making the aggressive, heavy duty tires that are usually standard on apparatus because the market would be too small to be profitable.

“There’s really nothing we can do about that,” Johnson said. “The reality is you may soon not be able to get the tire size, or tread that you once used to.”

That was of great concern for many of the attendees, more so than the engine requirements, but for now, they seemed pleased that nothing more serious has been foisted upon the fire service regarding emission as they brace for the next round of rules.