CNG-fueled ambulance coming to Bossier City

Next week’s Bossier City Council meeting will include an agenda item to appropriate funds to purchase a new compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled ambulance.  Of course, the purchase of a new ambulance isn’t much of a news story – except for the fact that this particular vehicle will be a prototype for a dedicated CNG ambulance.

Bossier City Fire Chief Brad Zagone and city Fleet Services Director Rodney Oar explained that the new ambulance won’t be converted to use CNG, but instead be designed and built to use only CNG.

That fits right in with Bossier’s plans to cut emissions from and costs of its city vehicle fleet through use of alternative fuels, particularly CNG.  Bossier City was one of the first in the state to introduce alternative fueling stations for public use.  By the end of August, there will be 18 of these stations open in northwest Louisiana, as other communities and oil/gas companies work in concert to provide alternative fuel availability.

And Oar’s application for and receipt of a $600,000 grant has allowed the city to convert or purchase nearly 100 vehicles to use CNG, to date.

The benefits to the city are starting to add up.  Oar said that last year the city saw about $100,000 in savings through the early stages of the conversions to CNG – but this year will witness an even larger drop in costs.

“This year will be the big drop,” said Oar as he explained the savings to the city when the cost of gas is $3.28 per gallon – but the cost of CNG is about $1 – making for a better than $2 per gallon savings for every gallon of fuel used by these vehicles. 

Further benefits of using CNG, said Oar, include higher mileage per gallon, and significant reductions in maintenance costs.  He noted that the use of CNG, a cleaner burning fuel, means that instead of every 3,000 – 5,000 mile oil changes, those oil changes occur at double or even triple those mileages – saving on all related costs.  

“All maintenance is cut in half as far as engine issues,” said Oar.

As important as saving considerable taxpayer dollars, the city’s efforts to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality locally through making alternative fuels available and converting the city’s fleet may be the more important facet of these efforts.  Non-compliance with federal air quality standards is costly in the forms of possible fines, and potentially lost new business/industry prospects. 

Oar said Bossier City will be the first to have a dedicated CNG engine ambulance, and that any community concerned with emissions will be interested in such a vehicle. 

It is not surprising that Bossier City leadership would be one of the first in the state to introduce such innovative improvements.  The city is often acknowledged by the Louisiana Municipal Association for outstanding work on behalf of its citizens.   

A seven time winner of the Louisiana Municipal Association’s Community Achievement Award, this year the city merited the recognition for its work in expanding and upgrading the water treatment plant.  This is the LMA’s top annual award in the Basic Services category for municipalities with a population of 25,001 and over.

Previous LMA Community Achievement Awards to Bossier City include recognition for the Louisiana Boardwalk, Benton Road Overpass, Cyber Innovation Center, and the city’s two alternative fueling stations. 

It would not be a surprise to see a future LMA award for the city’s diligent work to improve air quality, while dramatically reducing the costs of maintaining its vehicle fleet – and providing alternative fuel sources to the public – all at the same time.​

This article was first published by Bossier Press.


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