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Local Ambulance Company Switches from Gas to Propane

Ambulances can be converted to run on propane, a cheaper alternative to gasoline. But there's a significant upfront cost.

Heartland Ambulance Owner Kenneth Jackson recently converting 19 of his 25 ambulances to burn propane instead of gasoline.

Jackson says he’s now paying only $1.30 for the propane equivalent of a gallon of gas.

“Fuel is one of our second largest expenses next to payroll, and there’s nothing you can do about payroll,” he says. “So we said, ok let’s look at fuel, is there anything we can do? We shot around natural gas, propane, and things like that, and propane just seemed to be the best option for our company.”

But Jackson did have considerable upfront costs. Converting the vehicles cost $8,000 each, and Jackson had to install two propane pumps for $30,000 a piece—something that Jackson acknowledges could deter other companies from doing the same.

Donahue Gas Company supplies Heartland Ambulance with the propane. Donahue Gas Company Owner Brian Donahue says costs aside, propane-fueled vehicles also have environmental benefits.

“It’ll burn hotter at the point of combustion, so what it does is burn out any of the impurities that are in the gas itself. So its CO emissions are a lot less than you would find with a diesel and with gasoline etc,” he says.

Propane is considered a clean fuel under the 1990 Clean Air Act.

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