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ACT set to have Australia’s first plug-in hybrid electric fire truck

Ian Bushnell 29 August 2019 45

The Rosenbauer Concept Fire Truck. Photos: Supplied.

The ACT Government has joined with Austrian-based fire fighting equipment maker Rosenbauer to develop an Australian-first plug-in hybrid electric fire truck for ACT Fire & Rescue by 2022.

The ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) will work with Rosenbauer to pioneer the engineering of the Concept Fire Truck to suit Australian fire services.

The Rosenbauer Concept Fire Truck technology offers a fully electric drive with a diesel range extender, capable of carrying an identical inventory to the current ACT Fire & Rescue fleet.

The Government says firefighter safety and comfort will be at the forefront of the design with better use of space and greater crew protection.

The vehicle will be ergonomically designed and include a walk-in, walk-out entry to support firefighters’ knees and backs as they move in and out of the vehicle.

Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman said the development of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Fire Truck was an important first step towards transitioning to a zero-emissions emergency vehicle fleet.

“The partnership between the ACT Government and Rosenbauer will engineer a fire truck that’s far more sustainable than our current fleet while being well designed for our firefighters’ needs,” he said.

“This is a substantial step that will help move the ACT closer to achieving a zero net greenhouse gas emissions target by 2045. It is another example of ground-breaking technology right here in Canberra, further cementing the ACT as a world leader in innovation and sustainability.

“Rosenbauer is one of the largest providers of firefighting technology and equipment in the world, and their expertise will help us bring forward new technologies to benefit our firefighters, our community and the environment.”

The transition to a single electric fire truck would cut diesel fuel consumption by about 185,000 litres and engine oil disposal by about 400 litres over a 10-year period.

The Government says it is on track to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in emissions on 1990 levels by 2020, and after electricity moves to 100 per cent renewable sources by 2020, the next biggest emitter, transport, will be the focus of Government action.

The partnership will help bring the technology to the market and is expected to lead to the first fully operational Plug-in Hybrid Electric Fire truck in the Asia-Pacific region by 2022.

The Government has already contracted Rosenbauer to supply a new urban pumper with a 25-metre ladder and rescue platform, and a new 44-metre aerial platform to replace the ageing ‘Bronto’, boosting ACT Fire and Rescue’s urban firefighting capabilities.

The firefighters’ union says they were blindsided by the announcement.

However, the announcement has been hosed down by the United Firefighters Union ACT, stating that the ACT Government did not consult with them.

Spokesperson Greg McConville said it is concerning that Government is prioritising the purchase of this particular apparatus when a number of other pressing resourcing issues have not been resolved.

“ACT firefighters and residents deserve detail about the Government’s proposal for this new electric fire truck,” Mr McConville said.

“We’ve had no opportunity to ask questions about this proposal, let alone have those questions answered. Firefighters should be at the centre of any discussion about new apparatus, and to date, we have no detail.”

Mr McConville said the union only became aware of the partnership with Rosenbauer to develop and procure the vehicle through the media yesterday (28 August).

“We don’t yet have procedures in place for effectively extinguishing batteries in electric cars,” he said. “If the ACT Government were serious about acting on climate change it would address those basics before adopting electric engine technology in a suppression vehicle.”

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45 Responses to ACT set to have Australia’s first plug-in hybrid electric fire truck
Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 7:01 pm 30 Aug 19

Why do we have 30% more expensive solar systems than NSW???? Increasing the uptake of solar would have a far greater impact

Lis Stanger Lis Stanger 4:39 pm 30 Aug 19

How is it such a small country like Austria can develop this technology but this country can't do it outright?

    Tom Minchin Tom Minchin 1:12 pm 03 Sep 19

    Lis Stanger they still have a car bus and truck industry. Lucky them!

Steve Smith Steve Smith 4:30 pm 30 Aug 19

As usual, a whole heap of comments from people who, all of a sudden, seem to know more about hybrid fire trucks than the people who make them!

David Brown David Brown 3:43 pm 30 Aug 19

I wonder what will happen when the battery goes flat while it is pumping a high volume of water?

    Matt Burley Matt Burley 6:00 pm 30 Aug 19

    David Brown it’s a runs on fuel and battery...

    David Brown David Brown 6:07 pm 30 Aug 19

    Matt Burley Come in spinner 😂

    Of course they will use the Diesel engine but then one must ask “What is the point?”

Ursula Gamal Ursula Gamal 2:20 pm 30 Aug 19

Can it withstand a direct fire and extreme heat? Or will it be like the 2003 bushfires where the fire trucks couldn't???

    Murray Charlton Murray Charlton 5:49 pm 30 Aug 19

    Ursula Gamal the trucks burnt because they ingested embers in the air box. This was fixed by Scania. Plenty of lessons learnt from there and this new truck will be a great asset

    Ursula Gamal Ursula Gamal 9:41 pm 30 Aug 19

    Murray Charlton my understanding is that a mechanism in the gear box melted. The trucks couldn't move. Only the pumpers connected to the water mains were able to survive the direct fire hits. I'm talking from real experience.

    Adam Atkinson Adam Atkinson 9:46 am 01 Sep 19

    What Murray said. The truck destroyed in 2003 was disabled due to embers in the air box. Any other damage occurred after the truck was engulfed by flames. Plenty of other trucks survived who were not connected to hydrants.

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 12:48 pm 30 Aug 19

I’m curious as to how fire proof they are and whether they’ll burn longer if they do ignite due to the battery cells? Although you’d hopefully assume the designers would be aware of this probability as they’re fire trucks.

More worrying is that they haven’t consulted with our fire fighters about the new truck.

    Dan Rayner Dan Rayner 7:53 am 31 Aug 19

    Veronika Sain pretty sure petrol is more flammable.

    A.j. Knowlsy A.j. Knowlsy 8:33 pm 01 Sep 19

    Also I'd say it's not a rural fire truck but a suburban one. Chance if catching fire would be dismal.

    Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 8:38 pm 01 Sep 19

    Gas burns fast and then stops once the fuel is used up, battery cells have been known to burn longer and once extinguished relight again and burn more. But as I said I’m guessing the designers would take that into account.

Tim Cole Tim Cole 10:50 am 30 Aug 19

How do they get the extension lead to unroll quick enough during an emergency? 🤔

    Scarlett Butler Scarlett Butler 11:23 am 30 Aug 19

    Tim Cole they’re used to unraveling hoses, they’ll be ok with it!

    Shane Nayler Shane Nayler 12:41 pm 30 Aug 19

    Tim Cole it'll be kind of like a vacuum cleaner retracts a cable, but in reverse. Basically just don't stand near it is all I'm saying.

    Mal Briggs Mal Briggs 12:57 pm 31 Aug 19

    Now I've got this image of a taught extension cord running through intersections

Garvin Francis Garvin Francis 9:31 am 30 Aug 19

Any chance they can make them RED so they at lest look like a Fire Truck.

    Philip Selmes Philip Selmes 9:39 am 30 Aug 19

    Garvin Francis yeah, looks like an urban camo rapid response zombie mashing assault vehicle. But, as was said in other reply, still in design phase. But it wont be red, probs fluorescent lime green.

    Paul Dowden Paul Dowden 10:08 am 30 Aug 19

    Garvin Francis you’re not from around here are you?

William William William William 9:09 am 30 Aug 19


    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 9:25 am 30 Aug 19

    will engineer a fire truck that’s far more sustainable than our current fleet while being well designed for our firefighters’ needs,”


    Billy Mush Billy Mush 11:34 am 30 Aug 19

    Except they forgot to ask the fireies what they thought of the idea. But what would they know?

    Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 11:56 am 30 Aug 19

    Did they Billy? Are you sure?

    Luke Bennett Luke Bennett 12:20 pm 30 Aug 19

    William William it’s a plug in hybrid. Runs on battery charge, then an on board diesel generator kicks in to keep it moving should the battery be depleted. No range limitations, as long as there’s a source of electricity or diesel. Electric motors also have no performance limitations vs internal combustion. Most cars won’t keep up with a Tesla off the traffic lights.

    William William William William 12:25 pm 30 Aug 19

    Luke Bennett and look at them catching fire, they are quite expencive but it is our tax dollers going to good use we see after they deside be couple years yet

    Billy Mush Billy Mush 12:29 pm 30 Aug 19

    Direct quote from from the article Leigh, that you must of missed

    “We’ve had no opportunity to ask questions about this proposal, let alone have those questions answered. Firefighters should be at the centre of any discussion about new apparatus, and to date, we have no detail.” - Mr McConville of the United Firefighters Union ACT

Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 9:04 am 30 Aug 19

Can we please fix the footpaths and clean up the detritus in this town before we pay a mozza for hybrid electric fire engines?

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 9:26 am 30 Aug 19

    Janet Ilchef footpaths? What about hospital beds and buses?!

    Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 9:31 am 30 Aug 19

    Rob Thomas those too of course! But this week I took a trip into civic and was appalled at the footpaths on East Row, let alone the dinginess and graffiti. Surprised the businesses can stay open (those that are left)

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 11:30 am 30 Aug 19

    Janet Ilchef and parks and school!

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