OLYMPIA, WA – Fire districts in Thurston County, Wash., are working with the state’s Department of Ecology to install devices on emergency-response vehicles that reduce idling and emissions.

The Department is providing $250,000 to install exhaust emission controls on 83 vehicles, plus $390,000 for idle-reduction technology for 40 vehicle engines. According to the Department, these efforts will save an estimated $10 million in fuel and maintenance costs over the next 10 to 15 years.

The actual technologies in use involve small auxiliary generators are installed on fire engines and auxiliary electric battery systems are installed on medic units. These units allow the operators to turn off the vehicle engine while still having power for emergency lights and medical equipment.

To reduce emissions, the fire districts and Department of Ecology are installing diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), which break down pollutants in the exhaust stream, turning them into less harmful components. They are also using closed crankcase ventilation (CCV) systems to reroute filtered crankcase emissions back to the engine’s air intake.

A 2009 analysis by the Washington State Department of Ecology estimates that fine particles lead to about 1,100 deaths and $190 million in additional healthcare costs each year in the state.