Editorial: Electric fire trucks

Contributed Photo/Courtesy SRP: This all-electric fire truck is now in service.

Column By Mike Bibb

Okay, I’m going way outside my level of knowledge and expertise by commenting on the highly touted advantages of Gilbert, AZ’s new all-electric fire truck (Gila Herald, Nov. 14, 2023).

First of all, what is the cost of a comparable-sized and equipped diesel-powered fire truck?  The article didn’t say.

Secondly, what is the cost of the electric fire truck’s battery pack?  The article didn’t say.

Thirdly, what is the travel range of the truck before being required to recharge?  The article didn’t say.

Fourthly, what is the estimated service life of the electric fire truck?  The article didn’t say. 

Now, a few things the article did mention:  The “truck is expected to cost $1 million, including roughly $270,000 for its electric vehicle fast charger.”

2.  “It has zero tailpipe emissions, which makes for a cleaner, safer work environment.”

3.  “The Town of Gilbert received $30,000 from SRP for this project (Salt River Project Utilities), which included a $20,000 rebate for the truck’s charging solution, in addition to $10,000 for the truck itself.”

4.  “The new firetruck can deliver 1,500 gallons of water per minute.”

The article included numerous assumed advantages of an EV fire truck.  That’s expected in today’s electric everything mentality, where saving the planet from fossil fuel contamination ranks right up there with abortion in social importance.

However, before I dive head-first into the EV craze, and accept the glorious accolades of Arizona’s first electric fire truck, I would first like to review answers, or remarks, to my questions: 

1. Is an equally equipped and sized new electric fire truck comparable in price to a new diesel truck?

2.  How many gallons of diesel fuel could be purchased for the cost of an electric truck’s battery pack and charger?  Accepting $270,000 for the charger alone, that would buy about 60,000 gallons of diesel @ $4.50 a gallon.  Assuming the truck would average 8 mpg, it could travel 13,333 miles on 60,000 gallons.  Los Angeles to New York City, and back – over twice.  That’s a lot of miles for a fire truck.

3.  The Town of Gilbert received $30,000 to help pay for truck rebates and a charging system.  That leaves $970,000 that had to come from somewhere else.

4.  The electric fire truck can pump 1,500 gallons of water a minute.  How much can a diesel-powered fire truck pump?

5.  Are “zero tailpipe emissions” really an important factor in a vehicle primarily designed to stay on scene and fight air-polluting fires of various descriptions and combustibles? 

The article was interesting, but read like a car sales associate touting all the bells and whistles of his company’s newest and greatest four-wheel invention over his competitor’s.

Which is probably the most important point of the story.  Competition has an uncanny ability of weeding out the wheat from the tares. 

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.