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Sugar House Journal

Fully electric fire truck makes a stop in Sugar House

Mar 16, 2020 14h54 ● By Drew Crawford

By Drew Crawford | [email protected]

Increased attention to climate change over the last decade has caused local governments to think about how they can best reduce emissions. A bevy of new vehicle offerings and the decreasing price of batteries for electric vehicles has made this option much more feasible.

Recently, an electric fire truck has been touring the United States and Canada to display its capacities to firehouses and the public. On Feb. 22, it made a stop in Sugar House for everyone to see.

The first thing that one notices is that the electric fire truck is more compact. The diesel engines that are present in regular fire engines are not part of the truck, freeing up room for tools and fire equipment. The truck has a much lower center of gravity, making it safer to drive and giving it the appearance of a Transformer.

Anthony Burton,  the captain of the Salt Lake City Fire Department and public information officer, is excited about the technology and how it can potentially transform how fire services are offered to Sugar House and the surrounding areas.

“We’re all looking at how we can improve, how we can reduce our carbon footprint, how we can improve our air quality and just do business,” Burton said. “This is an electric vehicle, it’s an all-electric motor, it also has a diesel electric range extender. If we’re on a fire scene for a long period of time, that would kick up and charge the batteries. The nice thing about electric is we no longer compete with the noise of a diesel engine, it’s quieter for our personnel, quieter for you, we can communicate better.”

Going into fires is a dangerous job for public servants and the vehicles also limit direct exposure to pollution in the line of service.

“It’s also less contaminants to our firefighters. We face a lot of cancers in the fire service, so if we reduce our exposure to our people it’s just a better way to do business.”

The fire truck, which is manufactured by The Rosenbauer Group, has not reached any conclusive contract with Utah fire stations, and the potential agreement is part of an ongoing discussion of how the technology fits into the city’s sustainability goals.

“Our zero emission goals are to improve air quality, reduce our carbon footprint, less pollution,” Burton said. “We’ve already worked on some of those changes. We have diesel exhaust fluid vehicles, which reduces the particulate of emissions, but that’s in our current fleet. We’ve also changed our light fleet to either hybrid or almost all electric vehicles.”

Overall, the largest benefit of the technology could be the safety and handling that the vehicle provides while being driven.

“A lot of firefighter fatalities and injuries are just during our response,” Burton said.

While it remains to be seen whether this technology will be purchased, the city will continue to investigate it and the technologies available and plan for the future of firefighting.