The City of Los Angeles Fire Department this week debuted what it believes to be the first electric fire engine in the U.S.
The Rosenbauer RTX, which is expected to be in service soon at LAFD Station 82 in Hollywood, looks very much like a standard gas-powered fire engine but it’s packing a lot of interesting technology and features that set it apart from other trucks in the fleet.
The Rosenbauer includes a diesel-powered range extender that kicks in when the battery charge gets down to 20 percent, or after about two hours of operation, and gives firefighters an extra four to six hours. After that, a diesel truck can be used for refueling, just like with any other fire engine.
The fire truck includes two massive batteries located near the center of the truck, which the company said helps with handling. It also includes an adjustable air suspension that allows the Rosenbauer to change levels of ground clearance depending on the situation. At its highest, the truck can ride 19" off the ground, which the company said allows it to drive through about three feet of flood waters.
Inside the Rosenbauer’s cab, there’s no engine tunnel, which creates a more open space for firefighters and functions more like a command center for briefings, rehab and other functions. The cab also has a console screen for controlling almost every function on board, a mobile tablet that can do the same from up to 300 feet away from the truck, and camera mirrors that allow Rosenbauer to minimize vehicle width.
Fire Chief Kristin Crowley unveiled the new fire engine over the weekend and praised it for emitting next to no diesel emissions, which she said will create a healthier working environment for firefighters.