E-One, based in Ocala, is a full spectrum builder of fire apparatus and is a pioneer and recognized leader in extruded aluminum and stainless steel construction. Recently, it has introduced Vector — the first American made all electric fire truck. On its website, E-One says,”Energize your firefighting capabilities and protect your crews and the environment from air and noise pollution with Vector, the first North American style fully electric fire truck. With the most powerful, longest lasting battery performance on the market, this truck drives and pumps on electric power only — able to conduct 100% of ground duties with 100% electric. Customizable to meet your needs, Vector answers the call with cleaner, quieter operation.”
The Vector uses 800 volt architecture and is equipped with a 327 kWh battery pack that powers a 400 kW (536 hp) electric motor which in turn powers either the rear axle or the pump system. When working the pump, the motor can quickly drain the truck’s 530 gallon onboard water and foam tank. When hooked to a water supply, the pumper can spray a maximum of 1,250 gallons per minute, or run 750 gallons per minute through four hoses for four hours on a full charge. E-One says this is “the longest electric pumping duration in the industry.” The Vector electric fire truck can accept up to 120 kW of charging power, enough to recharge the battery pack in 3.5 hours.
Courtesy of E-One
The first Vector electric fire truck from E-One is now in service, part of the Mesa Fire and Medical Department Station 221 in Mesa, Arizona. According to Autoblog, Los Angeles took delivery of a European style electric fire truck in May 2022 built by Austrian company Rosenbauer and called the RTX. The Rosenbauer truck is not fully electric however. It has two battery packs with a total capacity of 132 kWh. It also has a 3.0 liter BMW 300 horsepower inline six cylinder engine to replenish the two Volvo Penta batteries. Think of it as a really, really big BMW i3.
The E-One Vector fire truck is powered solely by its battery pack. It can be fitted with an optional internal combustion engine to supply electricity to keep the battery pack charged during extended pumping operations. It can also make sure the fire truck is available during extended grid outages or natural disasters and can increase the maximum flow rate of water to 1,500 gallons a minute for as long as their is fuel to operate it.
The Rosenbauer RTX fire truck purchased by Los Angeles cost $1.2 million. Mesa authorities declined to say what the Vector cost but noted the money to buy it came from a voter approved bond issue in 2018 and the city’s general fund. If you think that’s a lot of money, sit down. You may be shocked to learn that $1.2 million is not out of line with current prices for traditional diesel-powered pumper fire trucks thanks to remarkable inflation over the past three years, which has been even wilder than for the traditional car market.
A fire department in Sudbury, Ontario, purchased three pumper trucks in 2020 for $788,010 CAD ($590.000 USD) per truck. In 2022 and 2023, the city council approved buying two more pumper trucks for a combined price of $1.7 million CAD ($1.2 million USD). When the city council finally put out the tenders and got them approved in late 2023, the price of each truck was $1.46 million CAD ($1.1 million USD).
A similar thing happened in Connecticut last year. The Norwalk Fire Department expected to pay a total of $1.35 million for two fire trucks in 2022, but by the time it was ready to move forward with the purchase in 2023, the price had risen to $1.84 million. Not only that, the waiting time for delivery went from the usual nine to 12 months to two or three years.
Since the Rosenbauer RTX has been in service in Los Angeles, it has operated almost exclusively in battery electric mode. In the initial six months of service, it used only battery power for 99% of its calls. When calculated for all operations including training, that statistic was 98.2%. Estimates for the current year of operation that ends in March figure a minimum of 96% pure electric operation in all phases of use. Mesa bought its electric fire truck as part of efforts to be carbon neutral by 2050, and as the Vector is all-electric, it should be even higher than L.A.’s high standard when comparing vehicle emissions.
The quest for those who wish to see emissions from the transportation sector reduced is to retire the diesel engine from service. Not only is that important for the Earth, fire fighters are challenged all the time by air that is unfit to breathe. The last thing they need is more pollution entering their lungs on their way to and from a fire. The Vector electric fire truck is another step forward for a cleaner environment and a more sustainable planet.
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