It's one of just four such engines worldwide.
The Los Angeles Fire Department has just taken delivery of an electric fire engine. Rosenbauer, an Australian company, built the engine for the LAFD, and it joins the city's fleet of 140 engines and 43 trucks. Fire engines refer to the vehicles that put out fires, while fire trucks are typically rescue vehicles. The engine will service Station 82 in Los Angeles and is the first of its kind in the country. It's also only the fourth electric fire engine globally. Electric vehicles are growing in popularity with first responders. Many police and rescue organizations have picked up copies of new models like the Ford Mustang Mach-E for their fleets.
The Rosenbauer RTX's spec sheet makes it look like an EV superhero. The engine gets a dual-motor drivetrain with all-wheel drive and two Volvo Penta batteries with 132-kWh of power. The combined output is 350 horsepower with a 490-hp peak output. Because fire engines have to do way more than just drive, the RTX gets a 300-hp BMW 3.0-liter diesel range extender engine.
With a 173-inch wheelbase, the RTX is a big vehicle, so Rosenbauer gave it four-wheel steering with the ability to countersteer and crab steer - just like a GMC Hummer EV. It's got an adjustable air suspension with four modes, four-stage regenerative braking and 17-inch discs, and up to 19 inches of ground clearance in water wading mode.
So, the RTX can wade deep water and has an impressive powertrain, but it's pointless if it can't put out fires. To that end, it's got up to a 750-gallon water tank with a 750-1500 gallon per minute pump capacity. The pumps can be driven by either the electric system or the range extender, and the hose bed can handle up to 1,000 feet of five-inch hose and 1,000 feet of 2.5-inch hose.
Beyond the benefits that EVs bring to the environment, Los Angeles fire chief Kristin Crowley believes its virtues will extend to other areas of firefighting in the metropolis. They said the engines would reduce noise, which will improve firefighter health and safety, in addition to producing zero diesel emissions.
The cost of the engine was reportedly $1.2 million, and its recent delivery is at least a year behind the originally planned date. The LAFD placed its order in 2020 and expected delivery last year, but like the rest of the auto industry, the pandemic caused delays.
It will be interesting to see how the truck is deployed - EV fires, perhaps - especially in longer-range situations. Let's hope you're never on the receiving end of the RTX's capabilities, but if you are, the only thing you'll hear is its siren as it approaches.