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September 11, 2020   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Are You Ready? – Proven Technologies Key for Emergency Preparedness

In communities across America, first responders, emergency planners and elected officials have a full array of capabilities at hand to prepare for, prevent and respond to natural and man-made disasters, and diesel technology plays a leading role

Recent disasters such as Hurricane Laura and extensive wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington have cast a spotlight on emergency services – preparation and response to protect lives and property. September is designated as "National Preparedness Month" by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security and the Diesel Technology Forum is working to promote awareness and encouraging individuals to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, schools, organizations, businesses, and places of worship.

In any phase of an emergency or disaster - preparing in advance, responding during the event, or recovering afterwards – success or failure depends on availability of skilled people and proven technologies to get the job done no matter the conditions or circumstances, especially in the uncertain times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In communities across America, first responders, emergency planners and elected officials have a full array of capabilities at hand to prepare for, prevent and respond to natural and man-made disasters, and diesel technology plays a leading role. Diesel technology is the foundation of readiness, response and recovery efforts. This is due to diesel’s proven reliability, durability, efficiency, safety and performance. From portable light towers and mobile pumps, to powering backup generators that give hospitals and operating rooms electricity within seconds of a blackout, to debris-moving construction machines, diesel is the technology of choice.

Take for example restoring electrical power that is so fundamental to our daily lives. Diesel-powered generators provide the most reliable form of emergency backup power. Power outages mean not only darkness, but also lack of refrigeration, communications, water, and constraints on mobility. Being able to pump gasoline and diesel fuel during times of loss of electrical power requires backup generators, as does the nation’s cellular phone and internet network.   

While there are other technologies like batteries that store energy, no other systems match diesel’s combined unique capabilities; rapid response time, load carrying capacity, portability, fuel supply, availability, and reliability. Many international building codes and life safety standards effectively require diesel generators for code compliance as the gold standard for restoring power to life safety systems. 

City and county leaders prepare for disasters by amassing the resources both public and private necessary to restore critical public services. Inventories of heavy equipment, fuel supplies, parts and servicing and skilled operators all play a key part. Cellular telephone providers have mobile towers powered by generators to quickly restore communication services until infrastructure can be restored. Local engine and equipment dealers provide support services and equipment rental capabilities to supplement government response capabilities. FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have strategic stockpiles of materials and equipment ready to dispatch to disaster scenes nationwide. The combined federal, state and local governments preparedness with private sector support are the key to most successful disaster responses.

Diesel technology is on duty to protect public health and safety not just during times of disasters, but 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in cities and towns across the country. Nowhere is it more critical to have the ultimate reliability than in fire and emergency vehicles. Call 911, and odds are that a piece of diesel-powered equipment will respond. Over 98 percent of first responder vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances, National Guard rescue vehicles, and other rescue equipment, are powered by diesel.

Call 911 emergency infographic

Rescue and recovery efforts after natural disasters have demonstrated the vital role of diesel power first-hand, powering high-clearance National Guard rescue vehicles, supplemental water pumps and portable refrigeration. In the recovery phase, it is diesel technology that powers the construction machines and equipment to clear debris and rebuild communities. Diesel-powered heavy equipment is the first to respond to open roads, restore power and the clean-up of the affected areas, and its work continues in the rebuilding efforts. Diesel vehicles also play an important role in protecting our public safety and homeland security. Approximately one-third of the fuel consumed by the U.S. military each year is diesel.

Mission Critical Services Infographic


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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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