BMW i3 fleet gives green tinge to fire brigade blue lights

BMW i3 fleet gives green tinge to fire brigade blue lights


A fleet of 52 new BMW i3s have been delivered to the London Fire Brigade as the service aims to become the most environmentally friendly fire brigade in the country. The BMW i3 REX models will be used by fire officers to attend emergency incidents and brigate business across the capital.

The new additions have allowed the London Fire Brigade to achieve Go Ultra Low Company status – awarded to firms and organisations that make commitments to increasing the amount of electric vehicles on their books. The fire brigade will have at least five per cent of its fleet made up of ultra low emission vehicles by 2020.

The BMWs will remain on the fleet for five years, and are expected to cover an average of around 7,000 miles per year. The 52 i3s – along with a further five other hybrids – are replacing 60 diesel Vauxhall Astras. Good handling from the i3s, allied to excellent acceleration statistics, allowed the i3 to be considered for use as a ‘blue light vehicle’.

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said: “Officers often travel at speed across London, so it was essential the cars could stand up to the rigours of being a blue light vehicle, as well as having green credentials. I am proud that the Brigade is leading the move from diesel to electric, which will make a big difference to the air quality for Londoners.

“In our 150th year, while celebrating our past we’re also investing in the future and it’s vital that we adopt policies today that future generations will thank us for. Who knows, perhaps in the future we will also be the first Brigade to run a fleet of electric fire engines.”

Transport Minister John Hayes said: “I am pleased that the London Fire Brigade has incorporated electric vehicles into its fleet and is using them to respond to critical incidents. Plug-in vehicles are better for the environment and cost-effective to run, and they can be used for a wide range of purposes.

“I am proud to say that we have pledged more than £600m to support the electric vehicle industry up until 2020, including funding for nearly 180 electric vehicles being used by emergency services, hospitals and councils across England and Wales, as part of our goal to make almost all cars and vans zero-emission by 2050.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “With nearly 10,000 Londoners dying early every year in London due to exposure to air pollution, I’m delighted to see the London Fire Brigade take this fantastic first step towards becoming the greenest fire brigade in the UK. This will make a vital contribution in improving the quality of life for millions of Londoners.”

As a range extended vehicle, i3 users don’t have the same restrictions with range that a pure-battery i3 would have. Although the cars don’t cover long distances, there is a need for them to be available to go at any point of the day or night, something that longer charging times could impact upon.

Nonetheless, brigade staff can charge their cars at 73 fire stations across London to further improve their green credentials, knowing that the on-board generator can pick up the slack in an emergency when there isn’t much charge left. So far, officers have reported on rarely using any petrol.

Image: London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson with seven of the brigade’s new BMW 13 REX fleet at Trafalger Square