The Los Angeles Fire Department now operates the first electric fire truck in North America.
“This is going to allow us to find new ways to provide service,” said Chief Richard Fields with the LAFD.
On a recent morning, Fields allowed me to get a tour of the shiny new truck, which is now responding to calls in Hollywood.
“It’s the perfect place to try new things,” said Fields.
In its first week, Engine 82, made by Rosenbauer, has gone on over 100 calls. The truck is still red but everything else is green.
“I would say the biggest advantage is [less] injury and [more] safety for the firefighter,” said Doug Feldman, Western Regional Manager for Rosenbauer, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electric and non-electric trucks.
Inside, the first thing you notice: there are no diesel fumes or noisy engines. It has a sound reminiscent of an electric car. It’s quiet, smooth, and comfortable, so you can think clearly inside.
The roomy interior features high tech displays and digital mirrors for better views around the entire truck.
There are LED lighting and level indicators for water and foam.
The electric drivetrain handles steep hills with ease, all wheel steering means a smaller turn radius and a crab mode lets the truck easily go around things.
“We knew that streets are getting narrower, so we wanted to build something very nimble,” said Feldman.
The truck can travel 62 miles on pure electric and over 300 if the gas-powered range extender kicks in, although Rosenbauer proudly told me that in the first 100 calls the range extender only ran for about a minute in 95 hours of operation.
Because the engine is so quiet, I asked how people are going to know when it’s coming.
“Quite frankly, people don’t respond to the sound of a motor, they respond to the lights, they respond to the sirens,” said Fields.
A typical fire truck costs under a million dollars, an electric fire truck can cost upwards of 1.7 million dollars. That price should come down as adoption goes up and the tech matures.