Idling reduction technologies (IRT) installed on a fleet of emergency vehicles reduced annual fuel costs by $2,600 per vehicle.

Case study explores the use of IRTs on emergency service vehicles to help fleets save money on fuel and decrease their emissions and noise.


Summary Information

Idle reduction technologies (IRTs) provide an alternate electric energy source to replace the idling engine that would normally power the vehicle’s electrical loads. This study aimed to define IRT’s applicability to, and its practical use on, emergency service vehicles (e.g., police, fire, and ambulance) by reducing engine idling and its resulting fuel cost, emissions, and engine wear.


This case study carried out by Argonne National Labs highlighted nine fleets from very different types of organizations across the country that implemented a range of IRT solutions between 2012 and 2015. The interviewed fleets included typical town/county police, fire, and ambulance fleets as well as some unique Federal government fleets.

The nine featured fleets included:
  • Poulsbo Fire Department (WA)
  • Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service (TX)
  • U.S. Air Force
  • Raleigh Police Department (NC)
  • City of Dallas Police Department (TX)
  • Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (CA)
  • U.S. Border Patrol (AZ)
  • Tuscaloosa Police Department (AL)
  • Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT)

IRT examples implemented by these fleets included battery auxiliary power units (APUs), diesel combustion engine APUs, electrified parking spaces (EPSs) and electronic control units that manage engine operation to turn off the engine after a set time limit is reached. In most instances, the IRT systems’ data collection and reporting services were used to quantify system performance.

Case Study Key Findings

OrganizationFleetIRT Solution ImplementedIRT System Benefits
Poulsbo Fire DepartmentFive ambulances; five fire pumper trucksLead-acid battery APU (ambulances); diesel APU (fire trucks) Estimated to have reduced annual fuel use by roughly 5.6 percent. The fuel savings alone equated to a $9,000 annual fleet cost reduction.
Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Service 27 ambulances Lead-acid battery APUResulted in $13,800 annual savings on oil changes and $5,100 in annual fuel savings.
US Air Force126 fire trucksDiesel APUSaved more than $2,600 per vehicle annually in fuel costs by reducing 1,000 hours of idling. Because of its fast 14-month payback period, all new U.S. Air Force fire trucks are being equipped with the integrated IRT system.
Raleigh Police Department 29 police cruisersLead-acid battery APUThe Department stated that it has not continued to use the IRT technology because of issues with short battery run time, short battery life, and idle reduction performance that would not result in a reasonable payback for future Department-funded systems.
County of Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office55 police cruisersManaged Stop/StartThe fleet projected a 14,230-gallon annual fleetwide savings, or a per-car savings of 259 gallons per year.
US Border PatrolThree police sport utility vehicles Lithium-ion battery APUFleet "overwatch" vehicles (vehicles that remain stationary all day) were estimated to save one gallon of fuel per hour of avoided idling. With a payback period of < 1 year, the U.S. Border Patrol is purchasing an additional 114 units.

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Case Study - Idling Reduction Technologies for Emergency Service Vehicles

Author: Owens, Russell; and Michael Laughlin

Published By: Argonne National Laboratory

Source Date: 01/01/2016

Other Reference Number: ANL/ESD-16/3



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Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas


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Benefit ID: 2017-01158