By Ben Macaluso
Boulder Fire Station No. 7 has a shiny new addition, and it burns clean biodiesel fuel.
The department purchased a green fire engine pumper for $510,000, replacing a decade-old model. The green-certified engine is the first for the No. 7 fleet and has been at the department for three weeks.
Deputy Fire Chief David Cain said the new engine, No. 2507, burns clean, meaning it doesn’t produce carbon monoxide or soot.
“This is the future trend for fire departments,” Cain said. “This engine represents the best technology available.”
Cain said the 460-horsepower Detroit diesel engine produces regular exhaust but traps the waste. The waste is injected with a fluid that burns the exhaust and puts out a harmless gas. He said people won’t see large black clouds coming from this engine.
“This engine meets the highest standards of the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Kim Kobel, police and fire spokeswoman. “It’s more cost-efficient to use this type of truck. Newer equipment will mean the engine is in the shop less often and on the streets serving the public more often.”
Kobel said the truck boasts 11 side roll air bags, and the previous fire engine didn’t have any air bags. She said the old truck will be used as a reserve engine in case one of the others is in the repair shop or if there is a large fire requiring more equipment.
The new truck’s half-million-dollar price tag is similar to that of an engine that isn’t green-certified.
On Wednesday, as the truck rolled out of the station at 1380 55th St., it was just about impossible not to notice it. It has improved external lighting, with LED bulbs. The back of the truck has National Fire Protection Association-approved reflective stripping, making the engine more vibrant than a yellow school bus.
“When lit up at night, this thing stands out like a Christmas tree,” said engineer Bob Patterson.
Cain said in the old truck, firefighters couldn’t talk to each other because of the overbearing noise, but the new engine is half as loud.
While the crew was harnessed into bucket seats and speaking freely with headsets, Patterson drove over a set of train tracks to test out the suspension.
“Before, if you drove over a set of tracks like this, you would hit your head on the roof,” he said. “This ride is much more comfortable.”
Lt. Joe Savino agreed.
“We lost 11 years on our kidneys to that old truck,” he said. “This truck is much smoother.”
The truck also includes a technology board to control water flow, allowing firefighters to push buttons instead of pulling heavy levers. The technology on the truck also includes a $7,000 thermo-imaging camera to detect fire victims without being able to physically see them.
“I’ve been reading the owner’s manual for two days now,” Patterson said. “I have a long way to go.”