CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The first completely electric fire truck stopped by Chesapeake Wednesday.
Its makers, Rosenbauer, came to Hampton Roads a month after starting their North American tour in Kentucky. The company is going across the continent showing their all-electric fire engine, RTX, in hopes of getting it into various fire departments.
The RTX has already seen success in the Los Angeles Fire Department, where it has been in service since Sept. 12, 2022. Since then, they’ve responded to around 1,400 calls and have driven more than 3,000 miles, with 99% of it powered solely by electricity.
According to Rosenbauer, the RTX is around 10% lighter than normal fire trucks and more compact at only 92.5 inches wide. RTX sales and marketing manager Todd McBride said that’s part of what makes the truck better than most.
“This truck does everything that a traditional truck does,” McBride said. “It carries the same amount of equipment, carries the same amount of water, but there’s just a lot of things it does better.
“The vehicle is much narrower making it easier to maneuver through traffic and get to the scene of an incident. It has all wheel steering, so if traffic is really tight, we can engage all wheel steering to make it easier for the driver to navigate through some congested city streets.”
However, McBride said the most important part of the fire truck is how it can lower to the ground more than normal, making it safer for firefighters to get in and out on the scene of an emergency.
“Making it easier for them to get in and out of the cab is one of the things we really wanted to work on because work comp claims, it’s very easy to roll an ankle or sprain an ankle getting out of the fire apparatus which is very costly for fire departments,” McBride said.
The RTX wouldn’t be able to move at all without the help of one Chesapeake company. Every truck has two batteries from Volvo Penta – straight out of the Hampton Roads city.
Darren Tasker, vice president of Volvo Penta Industrial Sales, said it’s part of a 20-year-long partnership with Rosenbauer that the RTX came to fruition. He said it was great to see the final product of something his employees worked so hard on.
“It’s really great for the employees of the company who work so hard to make our customers successful,” Tasker said, “and to see the product in the flesh.”
McBride said the RTX will soon be in service in many other places. Washington D.C. is the next stop on the company’s tour to showcase the fire truck, then they move on to Canada.
“There are a few more coming offline so, Vancouver, British Colombia, Brampton, Ontario, and Rancho Cucamonga California,” McBride said. “They are all in production right now and will be delivered later this year.”
He said the green energy vehicle could be in Chesapeake’s future soon.
“There is an initiative for cities to go green, so it’s possible,” McBride said.