Push me pull you

Published:  06 July, 2012

Ziegler Croatia, Daughter Company of German Ziegler has recently delivered a new vehicle specifically built for tunnel evacuation. The new truck was specifically built upon the request of the BINA Istra Fire Department in Croatia, writes Sinisa Jembrih, from Zagreb Fire Department, Croatia

In compliance with European norms and regulations, the first Electro Drive Evacuation Vehicle (EDEV) features two direction cabins, because the main purpose of the vehicle is to carry out rescue and evacuation from tunnels, and turning the vehicle around is obviously not an option. Technically speaking the main problem during tunnel fires is that there is a lack of oxygen. This lead to the idea of an electrically-driven rescue vehicle. because electric vehicles don’t need oxygen to operate while internal combustion engine-driven engines do. 

Three cabin concept

The concept has been designed around three spaces: 1st cabin - rescue cabin - 2nd cabin. This concept enables crossing from one cabin to another, as well as changing driving direction at any time. An air cylinder bank has been installed, so it is possible to create over-pressure to prevent the entrance of other hazardous combustion gases. The EDEV has been optimally designed for maneuvering through narrow spaces, especially under hazardous conditions. With the three-cabin concept, potential casualties are also kept separate from the driver‘s cabin, because they can pose a distraction for the driver. However, all cabins are still accessible to crewmembers which can deliver emergency care to the evacuees. The vehicle can carry 12 casualties at once. There are eight seats and four standing spaces. Every seating position has its own oxygen mask, connected to the vehicle‘s air cylinder bank. Besides the driver, there is only one other crewmember required to operate the truck.

The vehicle can be driven in both directions of the tunnel and when one cabin is activated, the other one is automatically deactivated, as well as the axle steering under that cabin. This means that the driver doesn‘t need to check what is happening in other cabin or in which position he has left the steering wheel after swapping directions. No matter the position of the steering wheel, when you activate one cabin, the hydraulic chassis unit automatically returns the steering wheel and the wheels on the axle below the other cabin to the central position.

Also, all the lighting automatically changes depending on the driving direction – front lights are turned off and the rear lights are turned on. Even the register plate lights turn on the “rear” side of the vehicle.


The electrical 4x4 drive consists of two three-phase water-cooled electric engines with nominal power of 2 x 76,6 kW (max 2 x 95 kW) – one for each axle.  The vehicle is easy to operate because it doesn’t have require a conventional gearbox. The driver can only choose the driving directions: front – rear or neutral. Basically, all he has to do is push the pedal.  There are two battery packages, of which the nominal voltage is 300 V, while the capacity is 2 x 180 Ah. Each consists of 90 LiFePo4 battery cells.  Battery chargers are mounted on the vehicle, so it can be easily charged from outside. Maximum speed is limited to 60 km/h.


The whole system is controlled by a computer, while all data is collected via the CAN-BUS system. The data is readily accessible on the display in the active cabin.

Each cabin has a thermal imaging camera mounted on it. Images are displayed on an LCD screen. This way it is possible to monitor what happens outside or to drive the vehicle during poor viewing conditions and maximum smoke percentage.  The vehicle is also equipped with rear-view driving cameras.

The tunnel truck has two pneumatic doors, one on each side. Special anti-smoke PVC strips have been applied on the last step, to ensure that no smoke can enter the vehicle during an emergency. Aside from the pneumatic doors, there are four mechanical doors in total. The truck is equipped with a water protection system with 10 nozzles in total protect to it from fire. Six nozzles are located on the roof and four are attached to the bottom of the truck to protect the tires.


The air cylinder bank consists of 14 cylinders. Each has 50 litres of volume with a filling pressure of 300 bar. All air is delivered to the vehicle via the reduction valve to the distributors for over-pressure and oxygen masks.

There are two sensors for oxygen level monitoring, of which one is mounted inside and the other one outside the vehicle. This data is collected and processed via the central unit. The bank can be turned automatically or manually and can work for five hours.

Different tests and simulations were carried out with this vehicle and all operational features were designed in close cooperation with the fire department. The ability to create over-pressure was tested, as well as smoke-permeability and the ability to drive on a hill at full load. Speed and acceleration were measured, as well as maneuverability and vehicle autonomy.

Photo: Ziegler Croatia

  • Operation Florian

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