Firefighters turned chemists: Rio Rico Fire leading charge on Biodiesel

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Firefighters turned chemists: Rio Rico Fire leading charge on Biodiesel

By Rikki Mitchell. CREATED Feb 16, 2014

RIO RICO, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - From the looks of it, you probably wouldn't guess a scientific lab down in Rio Rico is run by firefighters.

"There's a lot of technical processes to go through and there's a few of us that know how to do it," said Patrick McCarthy, public information officer for Rio Rico Fire.

The Rio Rico Fire District is one of only a handful of districts actually making Biodiesel.

"As far as I know, what we're doing is industry leading as far as producing our own Biodiesel," said McCarthy. "We would like all the departments to start doing it because it benefits their communities and the environment also."

The district converts used cooking oil it collects from restaurants, but also more and more people are starting to drop off oil at the district's three stations. 

"It's just really really catching on and I think the community is starting to see the benefit of recycling their oil instead of throwing it away," said McCarthy.

On top of the environmental benefits, sometimes the trucks even smell like french fries.

"It does have a little bit of that fried food smell," said McCarthy.

More than half of the district's fleet runs on Biodiesel, and they hope to eventually have all trucks running on Biodiesel.

"It burns a lot cleaner," said McCarthy. "So we're trying to become a completely green department."


If you have used cooking oil you'd like to donate to Rio Rico Fire, call 520-281-8421, and press 0 to speak to someone in administration.

The firefighters travel to Sierra Vista, Ariz. and Tucson to collect oil, so you don't have to live in Rio Rico to donate.

Rikki Mitchell

Rikki Mitchell

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Rikki Mitchell is a proud University of Arizona grad and joined the KGUN9 team after graduation. Rikki reports for the evening newscasts.