City fleet mechanics earn CNG certification

Three City of Asheville Fleet Division technicians recently earned certification to inspect compressed natural gas vehicles, expanding the kinds of city vehicles the shop can service.

Darryl Rice, Rob Martin and Kevin Haughinberry all completed specialized training through Blue Ridge Community College and passed the national inspectors certification test administered by the CSA Group, the industry standards developer for alternative energy vehicles. Their achievement makes them three of only a handful of people in North Carolina certified to inspect the low-emission CNG vehicles.

Compressed natural gas is cheaper – about $1 less per gallon – than gasoline and emits roughly 23 percent less greenhouse gasses. But the tanks on CNG vehicles are under high pressure and inspecting them requires specialized training.

“There aren’t that many inspectors available, so it’s important that we can do this in our own shop,” said Haughinberry. “It’s also a cost-saving measure for us.”

The Fleet Division of the General Services Department inspects, repairs and maintains all City of Asheville vehicles, from Police cruisers to Water Services trucks to Street Services equipment. That keeps the garage on South Charlotte Street pretty busy. Adding CNG certification is a big step forward for the division, making it possible to inspect the city’s 35 CNG vehicles. Overall, eight city departments use CNG vehicles, from Public Works to the Asheville Fire Department. The City of Asheville also operates a CNG filling station at 45 McCormick Place that is open to the public seven days a week.

The CNG inspection certification is another step in support of the City of Asheville’s initiative to reduce its carbon footprint. Green and sustainable practices and fiscal responsibility are both goals identified by Asheville City Council in its strategic operating plan.

Click here to see more about the City of Asheville’s sustainability initiative.