Emergency service vehicles: full-electric fire appliances12 January 2021

Instead of harnessing the power of diesel combustion, full-electric and hybrid drivetrains are coming to fire appliances, reports Steve Banner

Compact all-electric fire engines that can be used to help extinguish blazes in shopping malls, factory complexes, tunnels or narrow side streets in city centres have been developed by Germany’s Magirus. Better-known for its heavy-duty pumpers and turntable ladders – the M68L has a dizzying maximum working height of 68m – the CNH Industrial-owned company has enlisted Goupil of France and MUP Technologies of Austria to provides the necessary zero-emission platforms. Goupil’s offering is the G4, a 4x2 2.1-tonner with a 10kW motor and a 13.8kWh LiFePo4 lithium-iron battery pack and marketed by Magirus as the KLF iDL (pictured bottom right, in circle). Several KLF iDLs are now on duty at BMW plants.

MUP’s is the ELI, a 4x4 2.5-tonner with a 30kW motor, a 20kWh battery pack of the same type as the G4’s, and sold by Magirus as the HLF iDL (pictured, bottom right).

While their slim dimensions – KLF iDL is 3.3m long and 1.6m wide, including its rear-view mirrors – mean that they can access locations that bigger machines could never reach, the equipment they can carry is limited. Available with an electric hose reel and a 30m hose, the HLF iDL comes with a modest 100-litre water tank that feeds an electric pump with a maximum pressure of 40 bar and a maximum capacity of 50 litres/minute.

“Bear in mind though that there will be a fire hydrant in most of the places the vehicle is likely to go to, and possibly electric power too,” says Magirus product manager Andreas Wenzel. And bigger tanks are available. The KLF iDL can be equipped with a compressed air foam extinguishing system with a 300-litre reservoir. Limited too is the size of the crew these machines can carry. The cabs are two-seaters in each case.

Debuting in 2018, both the little zero-emission trucks have ranges of approximately 110km, but as locally-based appliances, they are unlikely to be asked to travel anywhere near that distance. Recharge times depending on the facilities that are in place at the operator’s depot, and may be no more than 2.5 hours on the HLF iDL, says Magirus. What is more important is their ability to power the equipment they carry. The HLF iDL’s battery can operate its pump for up to four hours, the firm says.

Magirus is not the only firm to come up with a small electric fire appliance. In the USA, Tropos Motors has developed a similar vehicle; the ABL FRV. The platform on which it is based is now being assembled in Germany for the European market by motor industry services supplier Mosolf Group. It offers a range of up to 190km and carries a 473-litre water tank, a foam system with a 19-litre foam cell and an electric hose reel.

Rather less sophisticated than any of the foregoing products is the BOSS mini fire truck from All Electric Vehicles of Queensland, Australia. With a lead acid battery that takes eight to ten hours to recharge, a modest 60km range and a 4kW electric motor, it has space for a 500-litre water tank and two crew. It can be shipped to overseas customers either fully-assembled, or as a flat-pack.


Moving up the weight scale, German fire truck specialist Rosenbauer has developed a 16-tonne electric logistics support unit for fire brigades based on Volvo’s FL Electric (pictured above). It boasts a workshop and can transport up to ten roll-on roll-off containers. They can accommodate anything from a portable fire pump and suction hoses to extinguishers that use powder to smother a blaze. Power comes courtesy of an electric motor with a continuous output of 165kW. Maximum torque is 425Nm and up to six 600V lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries can be fitted with a capacity of 50kWh apiece.

Maximum range between recharges is around 300km, says Rosenbauer. The six batteries take 10.5 hours to recharge if you plug the truck in overnight, falling to 1.5 hours with a rapid charger. The motor also acts as a generator that converts the kinetic energy normally lost during braking into electrical energy, and feeds it into the traction batteries.

Aside from the fact that it produces no exhaust emissions, Rosenbauer cites another advantage of FL Electric; low noise levels. “When idling it is almost 40dB quieter than a diesel FL,” it says.

UK manufacturer Emergency One has developed an electric fire appliance that also uses a 16-tonne Volvo platform, this time with a crew cab. Its 350kW drive system is supported by a 280kWh battery pack said to be rechargeable in less than two hours if a rapid charger is employed. Regenerative braking helps keep the battery topped up and the truck carries a 1,750-litre water tank plus 100 litres of foam.

Not content with the FL Electric, Rosenbauer has embarked on something more ambitious. Using a modular all-electric platform devised by Volvo Penta as a base, it has come up with what it modestly describes as the RT – Revolutionary Technology – fire truck (main picture, above). A futuristic-looking 18-tonner that has already been assessed by fire brigades in Berlin, Amsterdam and Dubai, it comes with two electric motors – one at the front, one at the back – that can deliver up to 360kW between them.

Volvo Penta was not quoting a torque figure at the time of writing but claims that the platform can provide a level of acceleration equivalent to that of an airport crash tender with a 1,000hp engine. That would suggest that the torque on tap is substantial. “Fire trucks have got to be capable of moving really quickly,” remarks chief project manager, Paul Jansson.

Volvo Penta already supplies diesel engines for our conventional fire trucks.

A tailor-made cooling system has been developed for RT’s 100kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Rosenbauer has additionally installed a 3.0-litre 200kW (268bhp) six-cylinder BMW diesel engine which is used as a range extender, turning RT into a plug-in hybrid.

The engine drives a generator sourced from Volvo through a transfer case supplied by Rogelberg which also connects the range extender to RT’s fire pump. This means that the pump can be driven either electrically or mechanically, says Rosenbauer. The pump is a Rosenbauer NH35 with a normal pressure output of up to 3,500 litres/min at 10 bar with a high pressure output of up to 400 litres at 40 bar. With pressure outlets on both sides and at the front, RT carries 2,000 litres of water plus 200 litres of foam.

Permanent all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and independent suspension are fitted. Kessler has developed the differentials and the two-speed transmissions on each axle, along with a hydropneumatic system for the chassis. Using cylinders sourced from Hendrickson, this system raises the chassis to provide ground clearances of from 175mm to over 350mm. “It makes it easier for fire-fighters to climb in and out ofthe vehicle wearing heavy equipment,” Jansson says; good news for crew safety.

Steve Banner

Related Downloads
233528/Emergency service vehicles.pdf

Related Companies
Emergency One (UK) Ltd
Goupil Industrie
Magirus GmbH
Rosenbauer AG
Volvo Penta Europe Office UK

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