Farmers Supporting Firefighters
by Keith Kerman, Chief Fleet Officer, Deputy Commissioner, New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (NYC DCAS)
National Biodiesel Foundation gives back to first responders during COVID-19 pandemic
NYC government is one of the nation’s largest users of biofuels. In the last eight years, the City has used over 330 million gallons of biodiesel in blends from 5 percent to 20 percent. NYC uses biodiesel for fleet and heating oil and has passed local laws requiring this implementation.
The Fire Department of NYC (FDNY) is technically exempt from biodiesel use in most cases. However, since 2014 FDNY has successfully implemented biodiesel (B5) for all emergency equipment, using over 1.5 million blended gallons in its fleet so far in fiscal year 2020 alone.
FDNY and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) have also developed a strong relationship, and FDNY has organized tours and presentations for NBB and our nation’s farmers on many occasions.
As FDNY takes on the extraordinary challenges of the COVID-19 emergency in NYC, the nonprofit National Biodiesel Foundation is giving back, raising funds to buy meals for first responders. So far, over $58,000 has been raised and over 1,000 meals have been supplied to emergency response and fleet for FDNY since the first week in April [Editor’s Note: this story was originally published May 4, 2020]. FDNY’s Incident Management Team (IMT) has helped coordinate the initiative.
Meals have been procured from Medusa, Marlow Cooperative and CafÈ Bogota in Brooklyn, Sofia’s Pizza and Frank’s Deli in Queens, and Rathbones and Milano Markets in Manhattan.
FDNY Assistant Commissioner for Fleet Mark Aronberg described the partnership: “The FDNY is proud to support the efforts of this city’s administration in reducing our carbon footprint and providing a healthier environment to the citizens that we serve. The biodiesel program initiated through DCAS Fleet has been a sensible and positive step forward in reducing our use of traditional fossil fuels.”
Aronberg continued, “The unexpected bonus that we yielded has been the bond that developed between the members of the FDNY and the soybean farmers, suppliers and developers of the biodiesel products at the National Biodiesel Board. Coming from a farming family and having spent most of my life serving the City in the FDNY, I recognize the similarities in the core values of the farming community and the FDNY members. The support and compassion shown to the members of the FDNY by the National Biodiesel Board will never be forgotten.”
NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen also discussed their relationship with NYC and FDNY: “New York City has the largest municipal fleet in the country and was an early adopter of biodiesel. Our industry has worked closely with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services over the years to educate key stakeholders about how biodiesel has been used in some of the most recognized and iconic vehicles in the world. The City has graciously hosted NBB members and farmer leaders from across the country for more than a decade. These firsthand experiences have been instrumental in developing new biodiesel champions and for the growth of the industry. While we wish we could do more to help, we wanted to do something to support our friends in New York during this difficult time. Teaming up with other industry stakeholders to provide hot meals sourced from local restaurants will hopefully provide an emotional boost to those who are on the front lines.”
Many thanks to Lieutenant Bill Fitch, Lieutenant Brett Bachman, and Firefighter Danny Youngson of FDNY IMT, Colleen Klein of the New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association, Jim Evanoff from Northern Rockies IMT, and Tom Verry of the National Biodiesel Foundation for organizing this effort.