The Town of Amherst Fire Department has taken delivery of their newest ambulance. The vehicle is a custom Horton ambulance built on a 2021 Ford 4WD chassis. The new unit replaces a 2011 International ambulance. This ambulance is assigned as the “A-1” unit responding out of the Central Fire Station.
The delivery of this ambulance puts the town’s ambulance fleet back to five ambulances. Although it may look the same as other Amherst Fire Department ambulances, this ambulance is considered a hybrid vehicle, as it incorporates an idle mitigation system into its design. The idle mitigation system, manufactured by “ZeroRPM” is designed to turn off the diesel engine when the vehicle is parked idling at emergency scenes. The ambulance switches over to a battery power system that keeps all essential systems, such as emergency lights, radios, heat/AC, etc., functioning.
Since ambulances and fire engines typically spend more time idling than actually driving over the road, this system is considered to be a more sustainable model, significantly reducing emissions. It is projected to pay back its initial cost within 5 years of operation, based on savings for fuel and engine maintenance.
The idle mitigation system cost an additional $25,000. This cost was paid for by a Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Green Communities Competitive Grant, which was secured through the work of the town’s Sustainability Coordinator, Stephanie Ciccarello.
This is one of the first hybrid ambulances to be used in Massachusetts. As the department prepares to order a new fire engine this year and another ambulance next year, the plan is to incorporate the same idle mitigation system into those vehicles to continue working to meet the town’s sustainability goals.