Exclusive: The future is electric

February 12, 2024

Bob Schulz, President of Pierce Manufacturing discusses the future of the firefighting vehicles sector

How much is a shift towards electric vehicle alternatives influencing the fire truck market?

It is 100% true electric fire apparatus are a focus within the industry.

The good news for us at Pierce Manufacturing, under the umbrella of Oshkosh Corporation, is our extensive experience in this domain.

Having been involved in electric vehicle technology for nearly 25 years across various sectors, we believe we have a unique advantage in meeting the growing demand for environmentally friendly solutions in both municipal and airport fire apparatus markets.

Our approach involves leveraging technology across our businesses, exemplified by the Pierce® Volterra™ pumper and the Striker® Volterra™ ARFF apparatus.

This technology is meticulously tailored to meet the distinct requirements of our end-users and their respective markets.

In the municipal sector, our strategy focuses on ensuring our innovations do not disrupt the established routines of firefighters and service technicians, particularly in their daily operations and maintenance of apparatus.

For instance, in our Pierce Volterra product, we’ve strategically positioned the battery compartment vertically behind the cab, incorporating less than 10 feet of high-voltage cabling.

Apart from this compartment, the apparatus maintains the same familiar design and functionality our customers use and configure daily.

This thoughtful design choice positions us well to meet environmental needs in the market, leading to swifter adoption and an enhanced experience for our customers.

In the airport sector, our approach with the Striker Volterra ARFF reflects a similar philosophy, although the specific componentry varies.

While it shares many components with our other models, the Striker ARFF emphasizes its environmentally friendly aspects alongside its performance benefits and improved response times.

We’re well practiced at transferring technology across our business lines, tailoring it to meet the unique needs of each customer segment.

Recognizing our customers may not be ready to adopt entirely new operating and servicing procedures, our design strategy accommodates both traditional and new practices.

Addressing your question about the industry’s shift: we’ve observed a steady growth in interest, with numerous requests for information about our technology, which is rapidly evolving.

We’re actively manufacturing units and anticipate continued expansion in this sector.

Undoubtedly, electric fire apparatus represents a major focus area in our industry.

How has the Volterra technology been received by customers?

The reception of our Volterra technology by customers has been positive, especially regarding how we’ve designed the product to meet new environmental standards.

We’ve seen a very favourable response to our design approach, and we’re currently navigating the product’s adoption phase.

As with any new technology, there’s a degree of hesitancy among some, but overall, the interest is strong and the demand is growing.

Have there been any charging-related issues with Pierce’s electric vehicles during emergency operations?

No. We’ve closely collaborated with fire departments, starting notably with Madison, Wisconsin, to ensure the reliability of our electric vehicles.

Their apparatus was in service for over two and a half years, responding to thousands of calls.

The apparatus consistently operates as intended.

We have fielded multiple other Volterra pumpers which continue to perform under full electric power serving as an environmentally alternative.

Given this vehicle is an emergency response apparatus, our design philosophy aims for full operation and absolute reliability.

Looking ahead, what strategic goals and objectives has Pierce Manufacturing set for the near future?

Pierce holds its position as a leader and is committed to not only maintaining but expanding this role.

Our strategy hinges on staying true to our core values.

We will keep prioritizing our customers’ voices, innovating groundbreaking technologies, and addressing their unique challenges.

Investment in our workforce and facilities is a critical part of our plan, ensuring the continued production of high[1]quality, reliable apparatus and providing the exemplary after-sales support we are known for.

At the core of our industry are the enduring relationships cultivated over many decades.

These relationships span the breadth of the fire service encompassing customers, dealers and suppliers.

As we look towards the future, the significance of these relationships cannot be overstated.

Our commitment to these relationships and to providing total lifecycle support remains unwavering.

We have never, and will never, shy away from these commitments. Our emphasis on enduring relationships and comprehensive support is paramount.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of Fire & Safety Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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