Above: Gene Ledford, a technician II in Polk County's fleet management division, does routine maintenance work on a Caterpillar backhoe. Right: Steve Bennett (left), chief mechanic, and Todd Atchison, a technician III, work in Polk County's primary fleet maintenance facility on an aerial bucket truck. Photos: Bob Stanton

In 2010, emission standards tighten further and technology solutions to achieve this reduction are currently limited to selective catalytic reduction (SCR) involving the injection of a urea compound into the exhaust stream. This method, currently being used in Europe, has particular logistic difficulties in the United States; hopefully engine technology will develop beyond SCR in time to meet the new standards.

Government fleets should prepare a strategy to deal with the transition to ULSD. Included in this strategy should be an ongoing dialog with fuel suppliers to assure the transition plan includes both the testing of fuel deliveries and fuel bid language that incorporates adequate accountability and protection should the fuel supplies be contaminated by mistaken deliveries of higher sulfur fuel.

Further, fleets should budget for additional technical training and higher vehicle and fuel costs, and specify their vehicles wisely to assure their preparations adequately address these issues. Because the physical placement of the after-treatment devices will limit the space available on chassis frame rails for hardware commonly added to government/vocational vehicles, fleets should maintain close contact with their vehicle suppliers to assure the chassis layout will accommodate their requirements without significant modification.

In the past, compliance with emissions standards required action only by vehicle and engine manufacturers. Advance preparation will be critical to assure both a successful transition to the new fuel and adequate budgetary allowances made to absorb the inevitable higher capital and operating costs.

Bob Stanton is director of fleet management for the Polk County, Fla., Board of County Commissioners.