Los Angeles FD purchases an electric engine

The plug-in hybrid is expected to be delivered in May, 2022

Los Angeles Fire Department's new electric fire engine
Los Angeles Fire Department’s new electric engine is expected to be delivered in May, 2022. LAFD photo.

The Los Angeles Fire Department is expecting to receive one of the very few electric engines that exist in the world. It was ordered from Rosenbauer America in February, 2020 and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said in a tweet today it is scheduled to be delivered in May. It is about a year behind schedule, but that may be because it is a pre-series vehicle based on Rosenbauer’s Concept Fire Truck. It will be the first electric engine in the United States. Three others are in Berlin, Amsterdam, and Dubai. Another Southern California city, Rancho Cucamonga, has also ordered one, with a delivery date in late 2023.

The truck will have will have two batteries with a charge capacity of 100 kilowatt hours. For comparison, a Tesla Model 3 small sedan can be ordered with batteries ranging from 54 to 82 kWh, producing a range of 220 to 353 miles.

The batteries on the truck will enable fully electric operation for roughly two hours and an on-board diesel generator can be activated for extended operations. It will have a 33-gallon diesel tank to serve the generator. If this was a car it would be called a plug-in hybrid.

The LAFD will equip the station that houses the electric engine with rapid-charging technology to ensure the apparatus is always ready to respond to calls.

The engine has a tight turning radius and a relatively short wheel base, which Chief Terrazas said will be an advantage where it will be assigned, Station 82 in Hollywood, an area with narrow roads.

The LAFD released this video shortly after the truck was ordered in February, 2020.

“I am excited that we are the first Department in North America to order this cutting-edge fire engine,” said LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas in 2020. “The electric fire engine is an innovative tool that will help reduce noise and harmful diesel emissions while providing a flexible tool for firefighting and rescue operations from a technologically advanced platform. We are looking forward to evaluating it in a real-world environment once it hits the streets of Hollywood next year.”

“The future fire truck is fundamentally different from the vehicles which are in service at the fire stations today,” said Dieter Siegel, CEO of Rosenbauer International. “It is multi-functional, fully connected and its flexible interior can be used as a fully featured command center. Its floor can be lowered facilitating minimum boarding and working levels. Electric engines reduce noise and pollution.”

Rosenbauer is the world’s leading manufacturer of firefighting vehicles and equipment. In addition to plants overseas, they have manufacturing facilities in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Los Angeles Fire Department’s crew of volunteer firefighters

Los Angeles Fire Department's Crew 3 volunteers
Los Angeles Fire Department Crew 3 constructs fireline. Screenshot from LAFD video below.

Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of many fire departments around the world — many active departments have no paid personnel. Usually volunteer firefighters are found in small or perhaps medium-sized towns and cities, especially in rural areas.

I have to admit —  I was surprised to discover that the second most populous city in the United States has volunteer firefighters. Los Angeles, with a population of almost 4 million people, uses volunteers in their Fire Department on what they call Crew 3, a crew that uses hand tools to construct fireline on the edge of fires in order to stop the spread.

Every member on the crew must take the required online training courses, pass the Pack Test, and then participate in two weeks of field training.

Most of the crew members hope the experience on the crew will pave the way to a full time job with the fire department.

Helicopter on Woolsey Fire rescues people trapped on mountain top

Three people and two dogs were were evacuated as the fire approached

Helicopter Rescue Woolsey Fire California
Screenshot from the LA Fire Department video below. Three people and two dogs were rescued as the Woolsey Fire approached.

(Originally published at Fire Aviation)

While on a water dropping mission on November 9, the second day of the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter received a new assignment. Civilians were trapped on a mountain top as the fire approached. Even as they were running critically low on fuel the pilots found a way to land on a ridge top that was littered with communication towers and vehicles.

The video below was shot from a pilot’s helmet camera.

It was great work, team work, by the pilots to successfully pull this off. We appreciate that he filmed what they were doing, and that their department approved and helped to publicize the fact that the recording exists. Some public agencies have draconian rules about their employees or the public taking photos or recording video of their activities. Videos like this can help citizens understand what fire departments do and how they are carrying out their missions even as politicians may lob uninformed verbal assaults their way.

CAL FIRE says the Woolsey Fire has burned 96,949 acres and 1,500 structures, with no breakdown of residences vs. outbuildings. The number of civilian fatalities has remained at three for several days.