It was a historic day in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 14, with the fire department’s newest addition to its fleet—the nation’s first all-electric fire engine.
LAFD officials and local dignitaries gathered at the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Museum in Hollywood for Fire Service Day and to welcome firefighters from Austrian-based Rosenbauer, a construction company that makes tools and equipment for firefighters.
Assistant Fire Chief Wade White said the agency ordered firefighters in 2020, with its originally scheduled to arrive in 2021, but the coronavirus pandemic led to complications.
At the time of purchase, there were only three such Rosenbauer fire engines or trucks in the world, in Berlin, Amsterdam and Dubai. Other manufacturers may have produced somewhat similar. But with respect to the United States, the LAFD’s version is the country’s first all-electric fire truck, or engine, the company says.
The Rancho Cucamonga Fire District followed shortly after purchasing its own Rosenbauer, which was expected to arrive in 2023.
LAFD chief Kristin M. Crowley said the engine is a step towards a greener future for Los Angeles.
“The new electric fire engine is an excellent platform for our department to test the future of alternative energy … and allows our department to move forward,” Crowley said.
The fire engine has two batteries with a charge capacity of 100 kW, which enables it to operate fully for about two hours. There is an onboard diesel generator as a backup for the battery. The fire engine also comes with a smaller diesel engine – just in case.
The base cost for the Rosenbauer RT – or Rosenbauer Real Technology – is $900,000, with agencies able to customize them. The LAFD’s electric fire engine costs about $1.2 million.
The engine idles automatically at a standstill, though the lighting and equipment remain powered by batteries, reducing noise levels, which the chief said is important when emergency crews need attention.
“It will reduce the noise, and bring it to basically nothing with respect to diesel emissions,” she said. “We’ll actually make room for our firefighters to stay healthy around our fire engines.”
The fire engine largely retains the traditional look with a coat of red paint. It has a tight turning radius. Unlike other engines in the city’s fleet, Crowley said the vehicle can also go up and down to meet needs depending on the terrain.
Scott said it was assigned to Fire Station 82 in Hollywood, where the crew had been training how to operate the engine for the past few months. The station will serve as a test site, as officials closely watch how fire engines manage the narrow streets of the Hollywood Hills.
At the end of the ceremony, Crowley drove the engine to Station 82—where the crew continued a long-standing tradition of pushing the fire engine into the equipment bay, which would be its new home.
You @LAFD #fire extinguisher Keeping the tradition alive. Pushing Our New Electric #fire brigade 82s in the appliance bay of his new home. I @LAFDChief It is behind the guiding wheel. pic.twitter.com/3MkBQgQ45Y
— (@PIOErikScott) 14 May 2022