Local governments in the U.S. are embracing electric and hybrid vehicles in a big way, and many states have implemented incentives to promote adoption of the futuristic technologies. However, fire department vehicles and apparatus are yet to embrace the transition, largely because vehicles were not available that both meet the needs of firefighters and provide environmental advantages.
However, fire vehicle technology is farther along the electric and hybrid path than some people realize. Electric and hybrid vehicles for the fire service are making their way into the market and may be deployed soon in a neighborhood near you.
Oshkosh Corp., which includes Pierce Manufacturing, has introduced the Volterra platform of electric vehicles for the fire and emergency market. The first Pierce Volterra zero-emissions pumper has been placed in service with the Madison, Wis., Fire Department, making it the first electric fire truck in service in North America.
The Volterra pumper is serving front-line duty at Station 8, the City of Madison’s busiest fire station. The department is made up of 14 fire stations serving 100 square miles and a population of more than 250,000. The Volterra electric vehicle configuration weighs 42,000 lbs., seats six, has a 1500 GPM single-stage pump, 500-gallon water tank, 150 cu ft of compartmentation plus ladder storage, and a hose capacity of 1000 feet of 5-in hose.
|Pierce Manufacturing and Oshkosh Airport Products have introduced the Volterra™ platform of electric vehicles for the fire and emergency market|
Infinitely variable transmission
An Oshkosh parallel-electric drivetrain with an electro-mechanical infinitely variable transmission allows zero-emissions operation when powered by onboard batteries. An internal combustion engine provides uninterrupted power to the pumping system or drive system.
The first Striker ARFF will be delivered to the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport Fire Department
Oshkosh also provides a Volterra platform for a hybrid Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicle, which is debuting at airports across the United States. The hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) meets the growing emergency response needs among airports of all sizes in an environmentally conscious way. Firefighters will be able to experience the technology first-hand. The first Striker ARFF will be delivered to the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) Fire Department in late summer 2021.
Advanced safety systems
Available on a 4x4 and 6x6 chassis platforms, the Striker Volterra performance hybrid delivers superior chassis performance, advanced safety systems, innovative fire suppression technology, reliability and durability. In April, Rosenbauer America’s Revolutionary Technology (RT) concept truck made its national debut in Washington, D.C., displayed for members of the Senate and firefighters based on the district. The viewing was held as Congress considers an infrastructure and jobs plan.
“The Rosenbauer RT is the fire truck of the future,” says John Slawson, CEO and President of Rosenbauer America. “Build from the ground up using advanced materials and technologies, the RT is the safest fire truck on the roads today – for firefighters, for communities and for the environment.” The fully electric apparatus features a high level of safety, excellent driving dynamics and maneuverability and is fully networked.
|Rosenbauer's Revolutionary Technology (RT) fully electric fire truck visits Engine 3 in Washington, D.C.|
Auxiliary equipment chargers
The RT’s electric drive is powerful and noise emission-free. The electric drive train ensures that almost no fuel is combusted while driving. Lighting and auxiliary equipment chargers are also powered by the batteries. A local power grid can be created with up to 14 kW operated simultaneously via the power outlet.
A built-in range extender (REX) comprises a small diesel engine powering a large generator
Conceived as a multi-purpose vehicle, the RT is a pumper first and foremost, a connected mobile command unit, and a vehicle for assistance in wildland fires. A built-in range extender (REX) comprises a small diesel engine powering a large generator. Volvo Penta developed the electric driveline for Rosenbauer’s RT fire truck, which is also being tested in fire departments in Berlin, Amsterdam and Dubai.
Pioneering electric drivelines
“After many years of successful collaboration with Rosenbauer, we are proud to be pioneering electric drivelines and partnering with them on this revolutionary project,” says Paul Jansson, Chief Product Manager at Volvo Penta. “This is our first industrial OEM partnership in the area of electromobility, and it’s a big step toward creating a new product platform of the future.”
The new fire truck aims to respond to global megatrends such as climate change, shifting demographics and urbanization – and their impact on the work of fire departments. Firefighters responding to a call need a vehicle capable of high speed, rapid acceleration hard braking and maneuverability.