FT OCC fire engine

The hydrogen vehicle maker ULEMCo has been awarded government funding with its partners to produce a design for specialised hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.

Working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) and its Fire and Rescue Service, ULEMCo will design the fuel cell electric powertrain for zero emission fire appliances.

Named HySPERT – for HYdrogen Special Purpose Electric vehicle platform for Refuse collection and fire Trucks – the work is planned to take eight months. ULEMCo will design the fuel cell electric powertrain for the Fire and Rescue Service, with the key output being a full specification and detailed engineered design for a prototype vehicle. This is a precursor to the next stage of development, which will involve the physical building of the prototype.

“We are excited to be working on this important initiative to plan the future of specialised utility vehicles such as fire tenders.” said Amanda Lyne, managing director of ULEMCo. “Hydrogen has tremendous potential for enabling zero emission vehicles in the short term.”

Councillor Pete Sudbury, OCC’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change Delivery & Environment, said: “Hydrogen could play an important role in our efforts to decarbonise, especially where battery powered electrification is challenging in heavy duty vehicles like fire engines. I’m delighted that we are partnering with ULEMCo on this innovative feasibility study as an important step in exploring and advancing zero carbon solutions. OCC’s Fire & Rescue Service will provide operational insight while the council’s unique Innovation Hub along with Climate Action team will work with ULEMCo to facilitate the project.”

OCC’s chief fire officer, Rob MacDougall, said: “Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is absolutely committed to act towards our net zero target, and building on the work we have already done to move part of our fleet away from internal combustion engines. Heavy fire engines pose a particular challenge and we feel that hydrogen-powered fuel cells can play a promising role in delivering on the county’s climate action ambitions.”

Alongside the study, the County Council will develop a plan for the hydrogen refuelling requirements across Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, and how this fits with the wider plans to develop a hydrogen infrastructure across the county.