LAFD to Acquire 1st Electric Fire Engine in North America

After taking the world’s first fully electric fire truck for a spin two months ago, the Los Angeles Fire Department said Monday it will buy one of its own.

Fire officials test out Rosenbauer's electric fire truck prototype near Dodger Stadium in late 2019 in a photo released by the Los Angele Fire Department.

Fire officials test out Rosenbauer’s electric fire truck prototype near Dodger Stadium in late 2019 in a photo released by the Los Angele Fire Department.

That will make LAFD the first fire agency in North America and third in the world to have an electric engine in its fleet, according to Chief Ralph Terrazas.

“The electric fire engine is an innovative tool that will help reduce noise and harmful diesel emissions while providing a flexible tool for firefighting and rescue operations from a technologically advanced platform,” Terrazas said in a statement.

Developed by Austrian firm Rosenbauer, the new rig will be based on the Concept Fire Truck (CFT) prototype that Terrazas test drove late last year. It will be custom made to fit LAFD’s needs, as well as safety standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.

LAFD expects it to arrive early next year, and the department plans to place it at Fire Station 82 in Hollywood.

“We believe it’s a good fit there,” Terrazas said. “We have the brush threat, we have narrow roads with all the congestion.”

After testing out the CFT, the chief found it had a tight turning radius, “unbelievable” acceleration and that it brakes just as well as the department’s current vehicles.

“I was doing doughnuts in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium,” he said.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas stands next to Rosenbauer's electric fire truck after test driving in late 2019 in a still from a video released by the department.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas stands next to Rosenbauer’s electric fire truck after test driving in late 2019 in a still from a video released by the department.

The custom engine will have two batteries with a charge capacity of 100 kilowatt-hours, which LAFD says will power it for two hours before an on-board diesel generator kicks in. The station that houses the truck will be outfitted with “rapid-charging technology,” the agency said.

After implementing its use, LAFD will evaluate what can be done in the future to make the engine more effective.

Rosenbauer CEO Dieter Siegel says the truck is “fundamentally different” from other fire engines currently in use.

“It is multi-functional, fully connected and its flexible interior can be used as a fully featured command center,” he said in a statement. “Its floor can be lowered facilitating minimum boarding and working levels.”

The first CFT prototype was introduced in 2016, and Rosenbauer is working with Volvo Penta to bring it to market.

Rosenbauer is currently working with Amsterdam’s fire department to develop a version of the CFT expected to hit the streets later this year. Berlin was the first city to integrate hybrid fire engines into its fleet.

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