The fire trucks of tomorrow are powered by electricity

Electric fire trucks are designed to meet the needs of an increasingly digitizing society.
25 December 2019

Rosenbauer’s Concept Fire Truck (CFT). Source: Rosenbauer

Electric vehicles (EV) may still be few and far between on our roads today but, with mass rollouts in countries like Germany, Norway, and increasing adoption in the US, the path for EVs to go mainstream is on the right track.

Legacy carmakers are driven to attract new entrants, including EV-purebreds and tech-savvy electronics firms. One such example is Hyundai’s US$50 billion move to be a smart vehicle leader, with about one-third of the fund dedicated to electric and autonomous vehicles. 

Meanwhile, German automaker Volkswagen plans to increase its EV production five-fold.

Currently, the concept of EVs has caught fire in emergency services, and emergency vehicles will soon join the fleet of EVs.

The US$1.1 million electric fire truck

At this moment, the truck is still primarily a concept. Its designer, Austria-based Rosenbauer, wrote on its website, the concept fire trunk (CFT) is “designed and developed for the fire departments of tomorrow”.

The company is one of the top makers of fire and rescue trucks in the world, and its move to create an all-electric fire truck is a turning point for manufacturers and fire departments across the globe. 

The CFT has an ergonomic design that aims to meet the changing needs of firefighting in an increasingly digitizing society. Moreover, the electrically powered fire truck is central to represent new-age emergency vehicles that are environmentally friendly, maneuverable and safe. 

The flexible design of CFT enables the driver and commander’s seat to rotate, and passenger seats can be rearranged to a conference setting. The goal is to facilitate communication during trips and briefings.

Besides that, firefighters can benefit from a central display that doubles as a control unit and information delivery system. The simplified yet sophisticated system allows the team to manage complex situations with information at hand.

The CFT is equipped with WiFi and a management system that allow firefighters to control the vehicle and drones. The increased connectivity between occupants and vehicles will streamline operations and enhance performance during emergencies. 

Fire trucks require extraordinary equipment and power as compared to other types of vehicles, even more so, an electric-powered fire truck. Therefore, the emergence of electric fire trucks and ambulances (Falck developed its first-ever electric ambulance model) are innovative and signals early adoption of ‘green’ emergency vehicles. 

Even so, there are some hurdles such as cost and maintenance that hinders an aggressive adoption of the electric emergency vehicles. Recently, tech economy hub Menlo Park, California has balked on plans to purchase the US$1.1 million electric fire truck. 

Therefore, we may not see electric fire trucks or ambulances driving down the roads just yet but, a noticeable trend of expanding EVs into public services is on the go.