A “Five-Alarm” EV

Original LAFD vehicle will begin street rescues next year

The Los Angeles Fire Department will help continue the electric vehicle wave after purchasing an all-electric, emission-free fire truck from Austrian manufacturer Rosenbauer this week.

LAFD signed on the dotted line for $1.2 million dollars. The Rosenbauer model—said to be the first of its kind—is what is known as a CFT (Concept Fire Truck), and will begin quieter, emission-free street rescues in L.A. in 2021, according to Monday’s Rosenbauer press release. The purchase price is reportedly equivalent to that of an LAFD aerial ladder truck.

Electric vehicles are on the cusp of a tipping point, it seems, where not only do projections call for recalibration almost every month, but fascinating utilitarian concepts like these emerge just as frequently. Let’s be honest, this newsletter runs an EV-related item practically each week. What could turn out to be the biggest news in EV history, one could argue, might’ve seen its seeds planted just this past week with Andy Levin and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s introduction of the EV Freedom Act.

The ambitious bill would create a national network of charging stations and supposedly generate plenty of jobs. But, as the latest action on that was a February 7 referral to the congressional Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, we’ll just give it a shout-out for now and focus on the wheels that have a bit more momentum on the ground.

“This compact fire truck will be stationed in Hollywood Hills,” said Greg Spotts, assistant director and chief sustainability officer at the Los Angeles City Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Street Services, on Twitter. “The smaller size and powerful electric motor suits the narrow windy roads in that area.”

“The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) is the first fire service in North America to purchase a pre-series vehicle based on the Concept Fire Truck (CFT). The electric fire truck from Rosenbauer will be delivered before the end of the year and put into practice as part of a comprehensive test operation in 2021.” the press release states. Rosenbauer—while its headquarters are in Leonding, Austria—operates its American businesses from three locations in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

In addition to its driving characteristics and safety features, the truck made an impression on the LAFD with its ergonomics and high functionality during the initial demonstrations last December, Rosebauer says. A sworn workforce of around 3,500 makes the LAFD one of the largest fire services in the U.S. It operates a fleet of almost of 1,300 vehicles and responded to approximately 500,000 emergency calls last year, including 4,100 structure fires. In other words, L.A.’s firefighters are constantly stretchin’.

“The LAFD and the City of Los Angeles are setting a clear example for sustainability and climate protection with the decision to use CFT technology,” Rosenbauer says.

The pre-series vehicle based on the CFT will have two batteries with a charge capacity of 100 kilowatt hours. This enables fully electric operation for roughly two hours and covers around 90% of all applications. A 200-kilowatt range extender is integrated for longer application times. The fire truck will be adjusted to meet the needs of the LAFD in terms of usage and loading, without limiting the flexible vehicle architecture in the process, and is designed to meet all standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

“I am excited that we are the first Department in North America to order this cutting-edge fire engine,” said LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas. “The electric fire engine is an innovative tool that will help reduce noise, harmful diesel emissions, and provide a flexible tool for firefighting and rescue operations from a technologically advanced platform. We are looking forward to evaluating it in a real-world environment once it hits the streets of Hollywood next year.”

“Although the global firefighting market is comparatively small, there are vast differences between the individual geographies. In the past, various traditions and operational tactics have made it difficult to succeed in North America with what might be a very European-looking product. This is why I am particularly delighted to receive the order from the Los Angeles Fire Department, which really is a fantastic vote of confidence,” says John Slawson, CEO of Rosenbauer America. “Together, we will develop a production-ready fire truck that meets all the safety standards of the NFPA and can seamlessly be brought into real operation further down the line.” Velocity Fire Equipment is Rosenbauer’s exclusive dealer for sales and service in southern California, Arizona, and southern Nevada. Velocity has received many fire departments’ requests for this new and exciting technology from Rosenbauer. The future is here!

Global market for new CFT technology estimated at around 3,200 vehicles by 2030

Rosenbauer’s Concept Fire Truck was first presented to the public in 2016. As a fire truck of the future, it anticipates major mega-trends such as climate change, demographic change, and urbanization, as well as the challenges that these entail for fire departments. The use of electric drives enables a completely new kind of vehicle architecture that is 100% tailored to these future scenarios and sets new benchmarks in terms of functionality and ergonomics. The main application area for innovative CFT technology at the moment is municipal firefighting vehicles, but it will also be applied to other types of vehicles further down the line.

Rosenbauer estimates that the number of vehicles with technology similar to CFT will rise to around 3,200 by 2030; up to 400 such vehicles could already be in service in Northern America by 2025.

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