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Schutz & Rettung Zürich to operate world’s first electric automatic aerial ladder

With the city’s vehicle policy aimed at achieving net zero in mind, the Zurich professional fire department is to begin operating the world’s first electric automatic aerial ladder in December 2022. This is part of a year-long pilot project alongside manufacturer Rosenbauer International AG. During that period, the vehicle is to be put through its paces in three different urban environments on the streets of Zurich to explore its suitability for operational use.

Fighting fires, rescuing people and animals, providing assistance in severe weather, rope rescue, dealing with bees and other services are all among the operations for which automatic aerial ladders are used. They are also the kinds of things that will put the new electric automatic aerial ladder (L32A-XS electric) to the test when Schutz & Rettung Zürich (SRZ) uses it as an additional automatic aerial ladder as part of a pilot project. The electric automatic aerial ladder, made by Rosenbauer, is powered not by diesel fuel but by electricity from three lithium-ion batteries. Despite this, the aerial ladder should be no different from conventional models as far as operating it is concerned. It should also be considerably quieter. However, the top priority is making sure that SRZ can perform its fundamental mission of protecting and rescuing the people of Zurich at all times, without any restrictions.

The vehicle, previously showcased at the Interschutz trade show in Hanover, will remain available for training and familiarizing firefighters until it is incorporated into deployment scheduling (sometime around the end of November). The vehicle will then be deployed on real-life operations both in the urban area of Zurich and in the airport region as part of a year-long pilot project, delivering valuable information on how it performs when used on day-to-day calls by a fire department. This could provide significant insights that can subsequently be used to optimize the procurement of emergency vehicles with alternative drive systems.

Collaboration with Rosenbauer

The electric automatic aerial ladder was first discussed at talks pertaining to the procurement of replacement steps for passenger evacuation for the airport fire department in June 2021, and it was then decided to pursue the idea of a pilot project. SRZ will now be leasing the world’s first operational electric automatic aerial ladder, with the normal rate adjusted due to the extended length of the lease. Buying one of these electric automatic aerial ladders currently costs roughly CHF 1.2 million, but the pilot project does not include any automatic purchase. By way of comparison, a conventional automatic aerial ladder from the current SRZ line-up comes to around CHF 1 million.

Gebäudeversicherung Zürich (GVZ), a buildings insurance organization, is supporting the pilot project in its capacity as the organization with overall responsibility for fire services in the canton of Zurich and a key partner to SRZ.

‘We are delighted to be implementing the first all-electric aerial ladder in collaboration with our customer, Schutz & Rettung Zürich (SRZ), and to have handed it over for trials. The top priority during development of the aerial ladder was functionality. We wanted it to be just as functional, powerful and reliable as the established standard aerial ladders while also being equally easy to use and maintain and offering the same level of spare parts availability. That is why we used only high-quality OEM components,’ said Markus Zellinger from Rosenbauer Schweiz AG.

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