BELLEVUE, Wash. — The Bellevue Fire Department is set to buy its first electric fire engine, a Pierce Volterra, funded in part by a $649,000 state grant.
"Technology is coming quickly and the change in the fire service and how we support our community in their needs and meeting the council's agenda is paramount to the fire department," Deputy Chief of Support Services David Beste said.
In a press release, the city of Bellevue says it's been adding electric vehicles to its public fleet for years, as well as charging stations.
“Adding an electric fire engine to the fleet directly aligns with the implementation of our Sustainable Bellevue plan, which we’re accelerating this year,” said Ana Hagerup, the city’s sustainability program manager, in the release. “Trading an older diesel model for a zero-emission fire engine puts us on the path to achieve the city's fleet electrification targets and goal to reduce local carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.”
Beste says the Pierce Volterra model will look and work much like the department's current trucks, though it will be quieter. He says the department is confident, based on current tests, that the truck will be able to respond to all expected calls and will not have an impact on response times.
"We would not purchase an apparatus that was not able to meet our high standards of meeting the community's emergency response expectations," Beste said. "So we will be able to do long-term calls, back-to-back calls, significant calls."
Beste says the truck will also have a small diesel engine inside for backup, so if they're pumping on a long fire and don't have a way to charge it, they still have a way to pump and go to other emergencies. He says while Bellevue routinely replaces trucks and they fall in line with emissions standards, this truck will still be cleaner.
"It's not just environmental and climate change improvement- but improves health for the firefighters and community," Beste said. "Driving around town it spews diesel, even if it meets emissions it's not the best things for community or the environment."
The first electric engine is expected to be housed in Fire Station 1, at 766 Bellevue Way SE, though all future Bellevue fire stations are also expected to be outfitted with charging infrastructure to prepare for electric vehicles. Planning and purchase work is underway now, with the vehicle expected to hit the streets in 2025 or 2026.