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A red Pierce fire truck on the road traveling under a bridge next to a snowy hill.

How do electric fire trucks manage cold weather?

It’s a question fire departments in cold climates are wondering as the demand for zero-emission fire trucks increases.

Below, we review several facts and challenges in regard to the management of electric fire trucks in cold weather climates.

Fact: Fire Stations Are Heated

Fire stations serve as crucial hubs for firefighters and emergency response vehicles. In cold weather climates, fire station bays are constructed to maintain a consistently warm environment for idle vehicles and equipment. This prevents water within the fire trucks from freezing and provides a comfortable working environment for fire service personnel. Fortunately, this also supports normal operating conditions required by electric-powered fire engines and their batteries.

So how do electric fire trucks respond? Keep reading to learn more.

Challenge: How do Electric Fire Trucks Perform in Cold Weather?

Fire-truck-cold-weather-performanceIt is critically important electric fire engines are reliable and responsive in cold temperatures.

The Pierce® Volterra™ electric fire truck is equipped with a sophisticated thermal management system to counteract the adverse effects of low temperatures on the battery. The system includes a coolant loop which circulates around the battery area, and a small electric heater. During cold weather months, the coolant is heated to prevent the battery from falling below a certain temperature threshold to ensure optimal performance functionality.

Moreover, the Pierce Volterra electric fire truck constantly monitors the warming process, records the battery's temperature and adjusts the heating system as needed. This careful management of the coolant circulation ensures the battery remains within the optimal temperature range.

In the summer, the system operates inversely. The coolant is run through a radiator, similar to a conventional car, to prevent the battery from overheating. If temperatures rise excessively, the cooling system is employed to cool the batteries to maintain a consistent battery temperature.

Example: Madison, Wisconsin Electric Fire Truck

A red Pierce electric fire truck sitting on the road in front of the capital in Madison, Wisconsin.The Pierce Volterra EV placed in service for the City of Madison Fire Department in Madison, Wis. in 2019, offered a good illustration of how the electric fire truck thermal management system works to protect the batteries.

  • The average daily temperature from November through March is 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius.)
  • In January, the average daily temperature dips to 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius.) 

Despite the cold, Madison’s Pierce Volterra EV performance output remained strong. 

See what a day in the life of an electric fire truck looked like in Madison, Wisconsin.

Fact: An Electric Fire Truck Thermal Management System is Always Engaged

To ensure optimal battery performance, the Pierce Volterra’s EV thermal management system monitors battery temperature at all times. Irrespective of whether the engines are idling in the station or responding to an emergency in frigid temperatures, the thermal management system ensures optimal battery temperature and performance.

The ability of Pierce Volterra’s EV thermal management system to effectively regulate the battery’s temperature is pivotal to keeping the electric fire truck operational.

The battery thermal management system supports immediate operational readiness and contributes to extending battery life expectancy.

Example: Warm Weather Climate Electric Fire Truck

warm-weather-electric-fire-truckA similar scenario occurs for electric fire trucks engaged in warm-weather service. In warmer climates, the thermal management system is designed to minimize the effects of excessive heat. Instead of heating the coolant circulating around the batteries, the system focuses on cooling it down. This helps maintain a consistent temperature that optimizes battery performance.

The Gilbert Fire and Rescue Department Station No. 2 in Gilbert, Arizona, also has a Pierce Volterra pumper in service. Gilbert’s arid, subtropical climate, intense heat during summer months and high UV index are not issues for the Pierce Volterra EV’s thermal management system.

Placing electric vehicles in stations with extreme climates helps Pierce gain feedback for continuous system improvements as more departments integrate electric vehicles into their fleets.

Fact: Fire Trucks are Not Typically Exposed to Harsh Temperatures for Long Periods

Regardless of whether they serve and protect in snowy or desert conditions, fire trucks are not typically subjected to prolonged periods in harsh temperatures. Even if an apparatus encounters extended emergency response calls in challenging conditions, the sophisticated thermal management system is designed to support and maintain a consistent battery temperature, regardless of ambient outdoor temperature.

While the fire trucks may face adverse conditions, the advanced thermal management technology mitigates any potential issues that extreme temperatures may bring.

Pierce Manufacturing has been a leader in fire apparatus technology since it began more than 100 years ago. The push for green technology was fueled from within the organization as it began to focus on more environmental sustainability manufacturing and in reaction to global shifts in green-powered energy requirements.

With the introduction of the Pierce Volterra platform of electric vehicles, Pierce is proud to meet the needs of your fire department while providing advanced technology designed to support environmentally conscious initiatives.

You can learn more about the Pierce Volterra electric fire truck from your local dealer, or you can review our additional articles below:


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About Pierce Manufacturing
Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation [NYSE: OSK] business, is the leading North American manufacturer of custom fire apparatus. Products include custom and commercial pumpers, aerials, rescue trucks, wildland trucks, mini pumpers, and homeland security apparatus. In addition, Pierce designs its own foam systems and was the first company to introduce frontal airbags and the Side Roll Protection system to fire apparatus. To learn more about Pierce, visit

About Oshkosh Corporation

At Oshkosh (NYSE: OSK), we make innovative, mission-critical equipment to help everyday heroes advance communities around the world. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Oshkosh Corporation employs approximately 17,000 team members worldwide, all united behind a common purpose: to make a difference in people’s lives. Oshkosh products can be found in more than 150 countries under the brands of JLG®, Hinowa, Power Towers, Pierce®, MAXIMETAL, Oshkosh® Defense, McNeilus®, IMT®, Jerr-Dan®, Frontline™ Communications, Oshkosh® Airport Products, Oshkosh AeroTech™ and Pratt Miller. For more information, visit

®, ™ All brand names referred to in this news release are trademarks of Oshkosh Corporation or its subsidiary companies.

Forward Looking Statements

This news release contains statements that the Company believes to be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding the Company’s future financial position, business strategy, targets, projected sales, costs, earnings, capital expenditures, debt levels and cash flows, and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. When used in this news release, words such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “should,” “project” or “plan” or the negative thereof or variations thereon or similar terminology are generally intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors, some of which are beyond the Company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors include the Company's ability to successfully integrate the AeroTech acquisition and to realize the anticipated benefits associated with the same; the risks associated with international operations and sales, including compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act;  the Company’s ability to comply with complex laws and regulations applicable to U.S. government contractors; cybersecurity risks and costs of defending against, mitigating and responding to data security threats and breaches impacting the Company; the Company’s ability to successfully identify, complete and integrate other acquisitions and to realize the anticipated benefits associated with the same; and risks related to the Company’s ability to successfully execute on its strategic road map and meet its long-term financial goals. Additional information concerning these and other factors is contained in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this news release. The Company assumes no obligation, and disclaims any obligation, to update information contained in this news release. Investors should be aware that the Company may not update such information until the Company’s next quarterly earnings conference call, if at all.

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