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LA spending $1.2M on America's 1st electric fire truck

James Leggate

The Los Angeles Fire Department is buying the first electric fire engine in North America, the department and manufacturer announced this week.

Austrian firefighting equipment maker Rosenbauer is the manufacturer of the new environmentally friendly apparatus, which will be based on its “Concept Fire Truck.” The purchase price is $1.2 million, which is equivalent to the price of an aerial ladder truck, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said in a video the department plans to deploy the new fire engine at a Hollywood station next year.

“We believe it’s a good fit there. We have … narrow roads, tight roads with all the congestion,” he said. “The Rosenbauer has a very tight turning radius. I have actually had the opportunity to test drive this apparatus a few months ago. It accelerates unbelievably, much faster than our current apparatus. It breaks the same way. I was doing doughnuts in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium.”

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The fire engine can operate on full electric power for about two hours, and a range extender allows for longer use times, according to Rosenbauer.

Its features also include an adjustable height for driving on roads or rough terrain, rotating driver and commander seats, WiFi access and a wireless control panel. And while it’s smaller than other fire engines in its class, it’s designed to meet all National Fire Protection Association standards, according to the company.

“Together, we will develop a production-ready fire truck that meets all the safety standards of the NFPA and can seamlessly be brought into real operation further down the line,” Rosenbauer America CEO John Slawson said in a press release.

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Rosenbauer expects that 400 of its electric fire engines could be in service in North America by 2025 and the market for similar vehicles will reach 3,200 by 2030.

“Although the global firefighting market is comparatively small, there are vast differences between the individual geographies,” Slawson said. “In the past, various traditions and operational tactics have made it difficult to succeed in North America with what might be a very European-looking product. This is why I am particularly delighted to receive the order from the Los Angeles Fire Department, which really is a fantastic vote of confidence.”

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