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Seattle City Light and Fire Department celebrate partnership, unveil the nation’s most capable electrical-fire fighting apparatus

Yesterday, Seattle City Light and the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) unveiled Energy 1, our newest Energy Response Unit. Seattle is the only city in North America with an energy response team to address these types of fire emergencies, and this apparatus for fighting electrical fires in substations and underground vaults is the most capable in the nation.

Energy 1 –  the nation’s most capable apparatus for fighting electrical fires in substations and underground vaults.

City Light and SFD have collaborated for nine years on minimizing the impact of fire-related power outages for residents and businesses throughout the city. The addition of Energy 1 strengthens the energy response team’s capabilities and preparedness for many years to come.

“Seattle is the only city in the nation where the city utility and fire departments are working together to make sure energy fires are fought efficiently and with the most effective tools,” said Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. “By responding quickly and safely to high energy incidents, we can prevent major power outages and infrastructure loss.” 

At the unveiling, Mayor Harrell praised the collaboration, saying “The Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light’s new Energy Response Unit exemplifies our One Seattle vision of collaboration and partnership, working together to ensure we are prepared to efficiently fight energy-related fires.”

The collaboration between both agencies not only exemplifies the One Seattle Plan, but also ensures that we are prepared to minimize the impact of energy-related fires as we continue to on our path of electrification. City Light recognizes that the path to an increasingly electrified future comes with many benefits to our climate, health and equity goals, but the inclusion of more electric infrastructure and vehicles naturally creates more opportunities for energy-based fires.

“Creating our energy future means more than just having a modern, resilient grid. Seattle must be prepared to respond to all emergencies in order to protect and preserve critical infrastructure,” said Mike Haynes, interim general manager and CEO of City Light. “Our investment in the Energy Response Unit expands capabilities, extending far beyond our current reach to improve safety for both Seattle City Light and Seattle Fire personnel.”

Captain Greene celebrates the partnership and emphasizes the Energy Response Unit’s capabilities.

Energy 1 is an impressive apparatus with a very specific purpose: stop high-voltage fires in vaults and substations. It replaces the previous apparatus, Power 25, which had the capability to store 900 pounds of liquid CO2 flowing through 125 feet of hose line. Energy 1, by comparison, can store 11,000 pounds of CO2 dispersed through 600 feet of hose line. This means the unit can access every substation and underground vault in the city.

“This is cutting-edge, innovative public safety work being done to protect our critical infrastructure, minimize the impact of power outages for residents and businesses, and keep our City employees and entire community safe,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell.

Energy 1 is impressive, but the true solution to handling high-voltage emergencies is the collaboration, equipment, training, and professional working relationship that City Light has with SFD. Our collaboration recognizes the reality that more electrified infrastructure and vehicles means we need to be prepared to mitigate risks. High-energy fires can cause huge, widespread outages and lithium-ion battery fires cannot be extinguished with water.

As Seattle Fire Captain Chris Greene unequivocally stated yesterday, “There is not a single utility-space fire that the firefighters can’t handle now. Lithium-ion batteries, charging stations for EVs, you name it. We have the most capable team and equipment in the country for tackling energy-related fires.”

In addressing these challenges and needs, City Light is proud to have developed a truly unique partnership and team with SFD. Because of this partnership and training, we are even better prepared to protect our energy future.