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A fire truck rendering shows the placement of fire truck idle reduction technology, highlighting the system in color on a grey background.

Idle reduction technology is an emerging fire truck feature that offers environmental and cost-saving benefits for fire departments. In this article, you will learn all about idle reduction technology system options for your current or future fleet vehicles including:

  • The benefits of idle reduction technology.
  • Operational features.
  • Battery management, placement and recharging.
  • Required idle reduction technology components.

What Is a Fire Truck Idle Reduction System?

Idle reduction systems are designed to reduce the amount of energy wasted when a truck is idling.

When a vehicle's engine is not being used to move, idle reduction technology can shut off the engine entirely while maintaining consistent power to perform other functions, like the use of accessories and lighting. This is achieved with power from electrical sources.

With an understanding of what an idle reduction system is, we will explore four key factors in idle reduction technology use and management below.

1. Idle Reduction Technology Can Save Fire Departments Money

The Pierce idle reduction system is shown on a fire truck rendering with energy flowing through it to demonstrate how the system works. Idle reduction systems are important to support environmental initiatives and service life longevity for emergency response vehicles. Reducing or avoiding idling time altogether has several benefits, including:

  • Savings in fuel costs.
  • Decreased engine maintenance costs.
  • Increased time intervals between required preventative maintenance.
  • Extending the fire truck’s engine life.
  • Improving operator well-being by reducing noise levels.
  • Decreasing emissions that are harmful to the environment.

Learn more about fire truck idle reduction system benefits.

Beyond its list of functional benefits, an idle reduction system also offers several operational efficiencies. Understanding these efficiencies starts with learning how idle reduction technology works and the types of technology systems available to fire departments.

2. Idle Reduction Technology Features Several System Options

Pierce Manufacturing offers two idle reduction technology systems: Auxiliary Power Unit (diesel-powered generators) and Lithium-Ion Batteries.

Here’s a brief overview of both technology options.

Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)

This system uses an APU (diesel-powered generator) to operate all of the vehicle’s electrical loads while in standby mode. When activated, the vehicle’s engine is shut down, and the smaller APU engine is started. This provides standby power for the vehicle without idling the larger main chassis engine, reducing fuel consumption and extending service interval times on the vehicle’s engine.

Use Recommendation: Use of an APU is recommended if the average idle time on calls is more than one hour in length, as opposed to a shorter call.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

This system uses lithium-ion batteries in conjunction with the existing lead-acid batteries and automatic diesel controls. This means the engine will shut down, and the lithium-ion batteries will power all electrical loads while on scene with the vehicle, including NFPA 1901 required devices and user-defined mission-critical tasks. If the lithium-ion batteries run out of charge, the lead-acid batteries will be used to restart the truck. This allows the operator to use the vehicle as needed without wondering which electrical systems will be supported when running on lithium-ion batteries.

Use Recommendation: The use of lithium-ion batteries as a method for idle reduction technology is recommended for departments who have calls that average run times of one hour or less and desire a “zero-emissions” standby mode.

Which option is right for your fire department?

Below, we explore the latest technology, lithium-ion batteries, in detail.

3. The Benefits of Choosing a Lithium-Ion Battery Solution

Lithium ion batteries used to power Pierce’s fire truck idle reduction technology system are shown connected to the fire truck frame rail.The use of a generator or lithium-ion batteries within an idle reduction system depends on a fire departments unique needs and user requirements. However, there are several benefits associated with the use of lithium-ion batteries, including:

  • Zero chassis emissions when operating under lithium-ion power, which reduces noise and green-house gases.
  • Reduces the amount of idle time for the chassis diesel engine, resulting in less wear and tear of the main chassis engine and other chassis components.
  • Reduces fuel consumption, lowering the total cost of ownership.
  • Results in less frequent service intervals over the lifetime of the truck, also resulting in low cost of ownership.
  • Reduces noise at a scene, offering a safer work environment for firefighters.

The use of a lithium-ion battery idle reduction technology system also helps free up compartment space and battery recharging is easier than you may think. Both topics are explained below.

Battery Placement

The configuration of any fire truck is designed specifically to use space and storage strategically. When an idle reduction technology system is placed on a new or existing apparatus, customers will not be asked to give up other valuable storage space to add this system to their truck.

Instead, the batteries are arranged with the standard lead-acid batteries on the left-hand side of the vehicle, and the lithium-ion batteries on the right-hand side. With this approach, existing battery trays can package the new system while keeping the two types of batteries co-located for ease of inspection and maintenance.

Battery Recharging

The ideal method to recharge the system’s batteries is to connect the truck to a 30 amp shoreline. (Note: Most fire stations have 15 amp drops.) If the batteries are fully depleted, it will take 3 hours for a full recharge.

The other recharging method involves using the battery recharging system on the truck. The truck's battery management system uses one set of chargers that support both the lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries. The system will connect and disconnect as needed to get the optimum equalization.

4. How to Get Started With Idle Reduction Technology

A firefighter sits in the cab next to the touch-screen used for idle reduction system command.The required components for the idle reduction system include lithium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries and Command Zone™.

  • Lithium-ion batteries are sized according to the NFPA 1901 required devices and all other user-defined mission-critical on-scene load requirements.
  • Lead-acid batteries run in parallel to the lithium-ion batteries and provide the vehicle with start-up power. When they sense that the lithium-ion batteries need to charge, the lead-acid batteries will restart the truck.
  • The Command Zone serves as the "brains" of the system and provides the automatic features. The 7" touch screen display is required for the system to activate or deactivate automatically.

When in idle mode, the electrical system relies on power from the lithium-ion batteries. When these are depleted, the Command Zone auto-start feature engages. The vehicle starts again and runs for a period of time so the lithium-ion batteries can recharge.

Whether you are interested in zero-emissions, reduced engine maintenance or increased operator safety, idle reduction technology is a valuable system feature to add to your emergency response vehicles.

Which idle reduction technology system is the right fit for your fire department?

Download the free brochure now or contact your local Pierce dealer to get more information.

Are you interested in learning more about fire truck idle reduction technology? Leave us a question below.

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Topics: Pierce Manufacturing, Inc.

About Pierce Manufacturing
Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation [NYSE: OSK] company, is the leading North American manufacturer of custom fire apparatus. Products include custom and commercial pumpers, aerials, rescue trucks, wildland trucks, mini pumpers, elliptical tankers, and homeland security apparatus. In addition, Pierce designs its own foam systems and was the first company to introduce frontal airbags and the Side Roll Protection system to fire apparatus. To learn more about Pierce, visit

About Oshkosh Corporation

At Oshkosh (NYSE: OSK), we make innovative, mission-critical equipment to help everyday heroes advance communities around the world. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Oshkosh Corporation employs approximately 17,000 team members worldwide, all united behind a common purpose: to make a difference in people’s lives. Oshkosh products can be found in more than 150 countries under the brands of JLG®, Hinowa, Power Towers, Pierce®, MAXIMETAL, Oshkosh® Defense, McNeilus®, IMT®, Jerr-Dan®, Frontline™ Communications, Oshkosh® Airport Products, JBT® AeroTech and Pratt Miller. For more information, visit

®, ™ All brand names referred to in this news release are trademarks of Oshkosh Corporation or its subsidiary companies.

Forward Looking Statements

This news release contains statements that the Company believes to be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding the Company’s future financial position, business strategy, targets, projected sales, costs, earnings, capital expenditures, debt levels and cash flows, and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. When used in this news release, words such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “should,” “project” or “plan” or the negative thereof or variations thereon or similar terminology are generally intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors, some of which are beyond the Company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors include the Company's ability to successfully integrate the AeroTech acquisition and to realize the anticipated benefits associated with the same; the risks associated with international operations and sales, including compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act;  the Company’s ability to comply with complex laws and regulations applicable to U.S. government contractors; cybersecurity risks and costs of defending against, mitigating and responding to data security threats and breaches impacting the Company; the Company’s ability to successfully identify, complete and integrate other acquisitions and to realize the anticipated benefits associated with the same; and risks related to the Company’s ability to successfully execute on its strategic road map and meet its long-term financial goals. Additional information concerning these and other factors is contained in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this news release. The Company assumes no obligation, and disclaims any obligation, to update information contained in this news release. Investors should be aware that the Company may not update such information until the Company’s next quarterly earnings conference call, if at all.

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