Firefighters view electric fire truck

April 18, 2023

Firefighters view electric fire truck

Around the County is a presentation of Preferred Credit Union,, located locally at 266 N. Jebavy Dr., Ludington.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

Brian Marek, left, talks about the truck.

LUDINGTON — Some area firefighters had an opportunity to view an electric fire engine Monday evening at Ludington Fire Department. The RTX electric-powered fire engine is manufactured by Rosenbauer America, based out of Minnesota. The truck is currently on a regional tour and made its way to Ludington thanks to Brian Marek of Victory Township. Marek, a retired City of Muskegon firefighter, is a service technician with Rosenbauer and has been part of the electric fire truck development for the past few years. 

The truck was developed by Rosenbauer International engineers in Austria and has been adapted to meet needs and standards in North America. The battery-operated truck includes a diesel charging and backup system. Marek describes it as a “range-extended hybrid” vehicle. The truck can be charged through the electrical grid or can charge itself through its diesel generator. 

The truck’s pump can run from the electric battery or the diesel generator. 

The first municipality to purchase the $1.8 million vehicle was the City of Los Angelos. Marek said the truck is well suited for busy municipal fire departments. 

“This is a first response vehicle,” Marek said. “It functions as a fire engine but it will primarily be used as an all-purpose vehicle. Like the fire departments here in Mason County, the majority of fire department calls are medical-related or some type of rescue situation. That’s where this vehicle works very well.” 

In addition to being an electric vehicle, the truck’s features are state-of-the-art. On a test drive, Marek showed the truck’s ability to steer with all four wheels giving it a turning radius significantly smaller than conventional vehicles of the same size. The truck is only 92.5 inches wide, which is considerably smaller than most fire engines but still holds the same amount of equipment. The truck is even equipped with digital mirrors located inside the cab. Marek said the demo model currently has traditional mirrors on it due to Canadian regulations. 

The driving compartment of the truck looks like a cockpit from a science fiction spaceship and even includes a joystick that is used to operate the water monitor (water cannon) on top of the drive compartment roof. The truck also has a suspension system that allows its road clearance to increase and be used for off-road driving. 

One of the challenges of the vehicle is the fact that there is minimal road noise. In fact, the vehicle is equipment with artificial exterior noise. 

“When you are in the cab, you can hear different vehicle sounds,” Marek said. “But, from the outside, it is silent. We have found that this can be a challenge because people or animals don’t hear it. So, it’s equipped with the ability to turn on artificial road noise.” 

Marek, a 1993 graduate of Mason County Central High School, began his firefighting service at Scottville Fire Department. He spent 20 years as a firefighter at Muskegon Fire Department and then was hired by Rosenbauer to repair airport fire trucks throughout the United States and Canada. He said when the opportunity to be part of the electric fire truck development arose he thought it would be a great challenge. 

“This is certainly something different,” Marek said. “I know there are some limitations right now with power grid concerns and the price point. But, think about the turn of the last century when people were hesitant to replace horses with motorized vehicles. I think this is the next step. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, thanks to social media and when we show this to firefighters who start off hesitant and then are at least somewhat accepting of it by the time we are done with the demo.” 


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