The Electric Fire Truck is Coming
From the point of inception in the 18thand 19thcenturies, Fire Departments across America have not fallen short in arriving at innovative methods in combating fires. In early days, fires were extinguished utilizing a three-gallon leather bucket system filled with water and passed hand to hand by villagers. Later methods included use of horse drawn carts and wagons that were equipped with 100-foot hoses. It was not until 1913 that fire houses began to transition from horse drawn steam engines that were used to pump water and onward to gasoline powered apparatuses. Today, engines are equipped with a variety of efficient fire and rescue equipment that not only include water hoses, but also ladders, ventilating equipment, first aid kits, hydraulic rescue tools, and high-tech communications devices.
As society has moved further into the Information Age, better and more ingenious equipment is being created to improve firefighting effectiveness and safety. Recently, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) has decided to invest in a more modern 21stcentury fire engine that will be powered using electricity, with diesel serving as a secondary power source. The new electric fire engine will be the first of its kind used in North America and will likely be debuted by LAFD Fire Station 82 in Hollywood. “It’s exciting to be on the cutting edge. It’s a whole different technology. It looks very promising,” said Captain David Grijalva of Fire Station 82, when asked how he felt about the electric engine being assigned to his station.
Manufactured by Austrian company, Rosenbauer, the electric fire engine or as it is officially known, the Concept Fire Truck (CFT), will come at a price tag of $1.2 million to the City of Los Angeles and will be specifically customized to meet the needs of the LAFD, while maintaining the high safety standards mandated by The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Fit with all the bells and whistles, the CFT is built with efficiency, environmental sustainability, maneuverability, and health and safety in mind. Ergonomically, the CFT has the ability to have its height and equipment compartments adjusted anywhere between 100mm-480mm to and from the ground in order to meet the specific needs of the environment it is introduced to, which makes the electric engine incredibly flexible. In the cockpit, both the Driver and the Commander seat have been constructed to rotate, such that the seat can fully turn to face the back for strategic situational discussions with the firefighting team. Visibility is much easier on the CFT. What Rosenbauer terms, ‘Surround Illumination,’ the electric engine comes with 100% glare free LED technology, which fully wraps 360 degrees around the apparatus. In comparison to currently used engines, communication methods have been made much smoother. Assembled with a wireless panel that can be removed from the apparatus, specific items can be controlled remotely using the panel via the engines built in Wi-Fi. The driving performance and safety of the CFT is state of the art. It will come with an integrated navigation system, electronic mirror system (video like), all-wheel drive, and possess crab steering; which will aid the 7.6m x 2.35m x 3.06m dimension vehicle on narrow turns. The body of Rosenbauer CFT’s are currently advertised in a lime green, yellow, and blue; however, the LAFD has chosen to continue use of the traditional red color for its new truck.
When not in use, the LAFD’s CFT will be charged utilizing rapid chargers which will need to be installed at the Fire Station. The engine will carry two batteries and when charged to capacity has the ability to fully run on electricity for two hours before it transitions to diesel fuel power. Additionally, because the CFT runs on electricity as its main power source, low emissions production is an added benefit to not only a cleaner environment, but also a health benefit to LAFD firefighters, whom are frequently exposed to harmful diesel exhausts throughout the course of their shifts. Research has found that prolonged exposure to diesel exhaust emissions has been linked to lung cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Being a green rig (as they call it) is a definite plus,” said Captain Grijalva. Much has changed in the past 100 years for fire departments across America, and the LAFD is no exception. Nearly a century has passed since the LAFD transitioned from horse drawn engines in 1921 to gas powered vehicles, and it now eagerly awaits its new electric engine in 2021. “We are anxious to get our hands on this rig. We hear great things and are curious how this will fit LAFD,” Captain Grijalva said. The CFT will pave the way for current and future LAFD Firefighters while fully throttled in maintaining focus on safety, health, efficiency, and ecology.
By Victor Ortiz, Jr.