Bossier City Fire Department has been a customer of Excellance for over 25 years. We recently spoke with the department’s Chief of EMS, Jeff Watson, about their decision to convert all of their units to CNG (compressed natural gas) and how this is benefiting their city. We also delve into why Bossier City Fire Department chose Excellance and why they remain a loyal customer. Read on.
Jeff Watson (Chief of EMS) stated:
Basically in Bossier City we started with the infrastructure of having CNG filling stations. Once we went to CNG filling stations the city [had] seen the importance of the CNG being cheaper, obviously; we are also in a Haynesville Shale meaning we are very rich in natural gas in our area.
So the city made the change and they built two CNG filling stations in our city—with one on the North and South side. We started trying to do conversions on all of our city police cars, some of our public utility vehicles and then we wanted to get into the emergency part of it. What we found from the emergency perspective was that it was a little bit more difficult for a manufacturer to allow that.
For somebody who is with lights and sirens, that are doing a lot of in traffic and things like that, there is a lot of safety issues that we had to consider. So we eventually got to go with Ford, and we worked with Tommy Pugh at Excellance over a couple of years to develop the R & D so to speak on the CNG. We did our first one I think three years ago that we put into service and once we got that going it was completely CNG.
There are different ones out there that use bi-fuels which run off gas for a little while and run off of CNG. Ours are totally CNG and they are totally dependent on it. The generator runs off CNG and the actual motor runs off CNG. From our city’s perspective, ambulances were once of the busiest vehicles and used the most fuel in the city and that is why they wanted to make sure that we start using those as soon as we could.
“You also have the environmental part of it where it is a cleaner burning vehicle. And it is one of those things were we are trying to do as much as we can for emissions and to save that as a city as a whole.”
We recently did the research for Ford and we are getting about 7 miles to the gallon for our diesel trucks and with CNG we get about 3 ½ miles to the gallon. So it is a big savings there, on top of what we are paying for CNG from the city is less than half, around $1.45 or $1.25 a gallon, and we were paying around that time about $3 a gallon for diesel. But I know fuel prices are down now, but you also have the environmental part of it where it is a cleaner burning vehicle. And it is one of those things were we are trying to do as much as we can for emissions and to save that as a city as a whole.
“We think that Excellance has the best product from a safety standpoint and to be honest with you–their remount program.”
Excellance has been building vehicles for over 25 years for our city, basically since we have been in the ambulance business, and we have always had Excellance ambulances. We think that Excellance has the best product from a safety standpoint and to be honest with you–their remount program. We can take the same chassis (or same body) and put it on another chassis, and we can kind of recycle them that way. We think the investment and the way they manufacture with the aluminum and all welding construction—we think it’s the safest thing.
We have had one accident, which was a pretty significant accident, and one of our vehicles rolled over and no one was actually hurt very bad. We did have a few injuries but it was not very bad considering. Their units are very sturdy and the way the construction was that you could tell after the accident it kind of just really validated what we thought we already knew so to speak from the safety standpoint.