Two of the things I most enjoy reading and writing about are new electric vehicles and fire trucks. EV design is full of creative solutions for the future of transportation, while fire trucks are, arguably, the coolest utility vehicles out there. So, you can imagine my excitement when the Los Angeles Fire Department announced it has received the first all-electric fire truck in America.
This past Saturday, the LAFD took delivery of its Rosenbauer RTX fire truck, which will enter service with Station 82 in Los Angeles. The vehicle is the first fully operational electric fire truck in the USA, and it’s also just the fourth EV fire truck in the world. Neat!
Built by Austrian firm Rosenbauer, the RTX has two electric motors (one driving each axle) producing 360 kW peak performance and 260 kW continuous, which is equivalent to 490 hp and 350 hp. They’re powered by a 132-kWh battery pack that also powers the truck’s fire-fighting accessories.
According to the truck’s builders, “purely electric and therefore emission-free, short-range operations are not a problem.” For longer fire-fighting responsibilities, the truck has a diesel-powered range extender onboard to recharge its batteries or power a water pump when required.
That range-extender is actually a 3.0-litre, 300-hp BMW diesel six-cylinder connected to a generator to pump up the batteries. In further pursuit of maximum efficiency, the truck also has regenerative braking.
At the truck’s unveiling, City of Los Angeles fire chief Kristin Crowley said, “We are beaming with pride to be able to add this fire engine to our fleet [….] This electric engine has many benefits, and first and foremost it will reduce noise. And, when we talk about our firefighter health and overall well-being, it’ll reduce and bring basically to nothing [the] diesel emissions.”
How does it perform as a fire engine? Rosenbauer says it has seating space for seven firefighters, as well as the capacity to carry up to 1,000 feet of hosing. There is also a storage compartment for ladders, and a 500- to 750-gallon water tank. The on-board water pump can swiftly empty that impressive tank, rated to shell out 2,839 l per minute at normal pressure or 1,500 every minute at high pressure.
According to Los Angeles Daily News, the LAFD originally ordered this formidable fire-fighting machine in 2020 with an expected delivery date of 2021, “complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.”
The cost of adding the new truck to the LAFD’s fleet was reportedly $US1.2 ($2) million.
Los Angeles won’t be the only city with EV fire trucks. The nearby city of Rancho Cucamonga has also placed an order for a Rosenbauer electric fire truck. The Daily Bulletin reports that California’s second electric fire truck will hit the streets next year.