BEAR GRASS - Rural fire departments across the country are facing daily challenges due to EPA regulations designed for big cities.
Implemented to eliminate polluting particles being emitted during a fire truck’s hours-long idling at big city fires and on occasion in the station house, these emission regulations have presented obstacles for smaller departments.
However, the obstacle rural departments deal with is not in the middle of the road, but on the shoulder, where they often find themselves sitting in their stalled fire fighting apparatus.
Bear Grass Mayor Charlotte Griffin made that point at a recent town hall event hosted by Congressman Don Davis.
Bear Grass Volunteer Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Griffin voiced similar concerns in a letter to Davis’s Office.
The chief reached out to the Congressman with the hopes of getting assistance from the senators dealing with EPA regulations regarding exhaust systems on fire and emergency vehicles.
“The issue is the majority of our volunteer fire departments do not regularly run these trucks, which is a good thing because if they are running, someone is having a bad day. Because of the requirements, the Diesel Exhaust Fluid system (DEF) is causing failures in our trucks,” explained Griffin. “My department, in the last six months, has spent several thousand dollars in repair bills that (has) yet to fix the problem of our truck reducing power to a point when we respond to a call it puts us down. This requires firefighters to pull over to the road shoulder, shut it down and crank it again to reset the computer.”
The department has taken the equipment to a private mechanic and also to the Ford dealership twice in an attempt to resolve the problem. However, only a federal mandate relaxing DEF requirements on emergency vehicles will solve the problem long term.
Not resolving the problem could be tragic.
Mayor Griffin cited a recent event in Wayne County where three fire trucks were stalled and had to be towed from the scene. The equipment stalls without warning.
“This hampers our response and endangers our personnel on the roadway. Several mechanics have told us the only remedy is to run the trucks weekly, wasting fuel and increasing needless wear and tear, to heat up the system and clean it out,” said Chief Griffin.
Another dilemma facing the department is that it is a volunteer department and they do not have the personnel available to commit to the weekly task.
Our rural fire departments of mostly volunteers can no longer afford these expenses and our citizens cannot afford these unforeseen, unnecessary failures hindering us to properly respond, explained Griffin in his letter.
“Last year, the Bear Grass Fire Department alone, the little volunteer fire department at Bear Grass spent over $6,000 in repair issues,” claimed Mayor Griffin.
Chief Griffin suggested the possibility of a federal waiver for fire rescue equipment so they wouldn’t have to conform to the costly regulation.
The EPA has yet to respond to questions regarding this article.