Find Posts By Topic

Seattle unveils the nation’s most capable apparatus for fighting electrical fires in substations and underground vaults 

SEATTLE – The Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light unveiled their new Energy Response Unit – ENERGY 1 –  the nation’s most capable apparatus for fighting electrical fires in substations and underground vaults. The collaboration among both agencies exemplifies the One Seattle Plan, working together to minimize the impact of fire-related power outages for residents and businesses throughout the city. 

“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,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “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.” 

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell introducing the new Energy Response Unit.

The team is comprised of 44 firefighters specifically trained to fight energy-related fires in substations and underground vaults that make up a significant part of the city’s electrical infrastructure.  

In 2014, the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light partnered together to train firefighters how to use carbon dioxide (CO2) to extinguish electrical fires in substations and underground vaults. CO2 is nonconductive and highly effective in extinguishing electrical fires in confined spaces. In the event of a vault fire, CO2 is poured into the vault while covering the opening with a fire-resistant tarp. This robs the fire of oxygen. Once the fire is out, Seattle City Light personnel deenergize electrical equipment, making the area safe for crews to begin repairs. 

Both agencies worked together at that time to retrofit a decommissioned rig, Power 25, with the capability of storing 900 pounds of liquid CO2 flowing through 125 feet of hose line. By comparison, the new ENERGY 1 response unit has the capacity of storing 11,000 pounds of CO2 dispersed through 600 feet of hose line, making the unit capable of accessing every substation and underground vault in the city.  

Seattle Firefighters of the Energy Response Team demonstrating the capabilities of the new apparatus.

“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. When we do our job well, these incidents go unnoticed by the public.” 

“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, assistant general manager. “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.” 

For more information about the specifications and manufacture of the ENERGY 1 unit, visit  

Media Contacts: 
David Cuerpo, public information officer 
Seattle Fire Department 
(206) 495-5880 

Jenn Strang, media relations manager 
Seattle City Light 
(206) 677-6295