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  • Writer's pictureZach Allen

Kraken Power launches zero-emission refit kits for Firefighting vehicles

Kraken Power released its zero-emission refit system for firefighting vehicles. The lithium-battery refit systems are custom configured for each fire apparatus using standardized components, and will be installed by Kraken's authorized installer network across North America.

The electrification of firefighting vehicles began as a concept just a few years ago, and while two truck builders now have electrified models, the cost of these newly built, electrified chassis are still far out of reach of most fire departments. Beyond the issue of cost, the battery pack size required to propel a heavy duty fire apparatus is substantial. The often heard phrase "range anxiety" among the EV industry is a top concern for fire departments as well. "Range" is not necessarily the issue, as fire apparatus tend to stay within close proximity to their fire station, but charging capabilities is a problem that is yet to be solved. Fire stations across North America are equipped with 115V 15A "shore power" at each truck parking bay to, historically, keep the starter battery fully charged. This 1.7 kW charging connection would charge a 100 kWh Tesla in 59 hours, or 2.5 days, and an average fire apparatus is likely to require at least twice this capacity to propel such a heavy laden chassis down the road, stay powered while on scene, and make it home with juice to spare. Until fire stations begin installing Super Chargers at every truck bay, fully electrified trucks are unlikely to catch on due to the time available to recharge between calls--which often measures less than 30 minutes at many municipal departments.

The concern for emissions within the fire service is not for the same reasons as the consumer market for EVs. Where consumers tend to be more concerned with the abstract macro issues of global environmental effects from burning carbon, firefighters take it much more personally. Studies of first responders over the past decade have shown a much higher prevalence for cancer due to their acute exposure to carcinogenic emissions from smoke and the many internal combustion engines that surround their response scene. Until 2015, many high-powered firefighting tools were powered by their own gasoline engine and the truck itself must remain idling at all times to ensure the NFPA minimum lighting requirements while on scene. For their part, many manufacturers--from extrication tools to PPV fans--have been aggressively developing portable, cordless, zero-emission battery packs for their tools. While great news for firefighters concerned with long-term exposure to CO-emissions, a new challenge popped up.

All batteries have the same issues.

There are more than 200,000 fire apparatus in service in the United States, and many of these are expected to remain in service for approximately 20 years. Unlike most other vehicles, fire apparatus have the mission of moving a large kit of specialized tools to and from the fire station so they can be prepared for whatever situation they encounter. Over time the technology available from tool manufacturers improves and, as is the case with the new generation of battery-powered tools, the same time-limited charging challenges mentioned above are brought to the surface. Older fire apparatus were built before battery tools were available, or perhaps just not specified for the role of charging platform--which next generation fire apparatus are increasingly required to be.

Improve. Don't Replace...(yet).

Kraken Power's new lithium upgrade kits for older fire apparatus can be scaled to allow full-time powering of onboard systems, from AC outlets with tool battery chargers plugged in, to electric HVAC and clean cab systems, to lighting and whatever else is desired--all while simply turning off the engine upon arrival at the scene.

Equipment source emission exposure is now 100% avoidable, even on your old truck.

The zero-emission systems for fire apparatus, developed in partnership with Dutch company Whisper Power, have been proven on mobile medical vehicles, ships and yachts, containerized power solutions for industry, and more. With a system solution approach to address the unique demands of the firefighting industry, Kraken Power has changed the paradigm of what a fire apparatus is capable of.

What's Next?

The Kraken team is now focused on scaling up to meet high demand from the market, including adding installation partners across the country, growing its direct-to-market sales force, and participating in First Movers, an innovative traveling exhibition which brings zero-emission technology to municipal fleet operators for several days of product and application training right in their home town.

Contact the Kraken Power team for more information.

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