While most of us are used to seeing firefighters responding to emergency calls in enormous great trucks roaring through the streets with sirens blaring, residents of Paris may be about to witness the tiny Twizy electric ultra-compact tootling out of a fire station on its way to tackle an inferno or some such incident.
Renault, maker of the ultra-small, ultra-light, ultra-short, ultra-cheap-to-run, ultra-pretty-much-everything vehicle, this week presented the Paris fire department with a specially adapted Twizy fitted with emergency response equipment such as fire extinguishers, oxygen tanks, a fire suit, a helmet and a first-aid kit. That’s a lot of stuff when you think about it – I hope they’ve left room for the driver.
Co-developed by Renault, Renault Tech and the Paris fire department, the diminutive doorless car – top speed 50mph (80km/h) – is set to be used as a support vehicle for “early interventions ahead of the arrival of more consequential lifesaving equipment,” Renault said in a press release. It will also be used when setting up temporary safety installations at major public events.
Tests will start in November and last for eight months, with the fire department considering the purchase of a fleet of adapted Twizy cars for use across the city.
“This initial prototype is real-life proof of the research and development work carried out together with the emergency services, demonstrating Renault’s ability and determination to innovate to meet the needs of firefighters,” Renault safety officer Claire Petit Boulanger said.
The Twizy was unveiled as a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2009, and went on sale in a number of European countries earlier this year for around $10,000.
How firefighters will feel about jumping into a Twizy after sliding down the firepole remains to be seen. A reviewer writing in the Telegraph recently said when she drove it around London she had “small boys pointing, mothers laughing, men staring.” And hers didn’t even have a siren on the top. Still, if it benefits the work of a firefighter, improves efficiency and is kinder to the environment, it has to be a good thing, right?