Episode 1

How it all began ...


Episode 1

Wie alles begann …

Right from the start, Rosenbauer was interested in one thing above all else: how to best support and protect firefighters in operation. That’s why the industry-wide technology and innovation leader took a chance at the end of the 1970’s with a totally new type of product development: simply ask the emergency crews beforehand. Always ahead of its time, in 1978 Rosenbauer did something completely out of the ordinary: users, their demands, and their requirements were included in the development process of a new vehicle, right from the start. As a pioneer in the field, Rosenbauer then initiated a large-scale customer survey for the first time. All of the biggest airports in the world were contacted with an extensive questionnaire. The firefighters themselves were to describe how they imagined their perfect vehicle. Rosenbauer used the wishes and requirements as the foundation for the new development of an aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle, which was to have a unique design, ergonomics, and operation.

If someone wants to create something new, they have to venture on a new path.

The engine from Mercedes Benz, the chassis from Reynold Boughton. The SIMBA prototype got the best of everything. Also in the design. None other than world-renowned painter Kristian Fenzl was responsible for the SIMBA’s revolutionary design. At the time still working at the art college in Linz, the exceptional artist developed the look of the airport fire fighter. The result was a bright yellow vehicle with a large glazed cab, gold-tinted windows, and swing doors.

After two years of development, Rosenbauer presented amazed industry representatives with an airport fire fighter at Interschutz 1980 that would revolutionize airport operations: the SIMBA 6×6. The prototype remained the only vehicle with a chassis from Reynold Boughton, however. Rosenbauer later switched to the German manufacturer Titan, on whose chassis the subsequent SIMBA 6×6’s and 8×8’s were created.

After its spectacular world premiere at Interschutz, Rosenbauer’s “lion” began its unstoppable victory march and became the state of the art vehicle for firefighting operations for airport fire departments across the whole world. In 1983, Rosenbauer was awarded the Austrian National Award for Innovation for its revolutionary concept. At the end of the 1990’s, the PANTHER took over the market and the last SIMBA left the plant in Leonding in 1996. To date, the SIMBA is considered the pioneer in extraordinary functional design.

From a lion to a Panther.

For Rosenbauer, success is just another incentive to become even better and offer fire departments even more performance, protection, and comfort. Based on the SIMBA, the traditional Austrian firm developed the world’s first PANTHER in 1991 and made history for good in doing so.

The PANTHER seamlessly followed the success of the SIMBA and became the new flagship of the Rosenbauer fleet. Development work on the new aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle began in 1988. It was to set new standards in the areas of design, materials, and performance. Once again Kristian Fenzl was commissioned with the design study and he produced a stroke of genius once more. With the design of the PANTHER he created a unique synthesis of form and function, which is setting new standards to this day. The new vehicle is rounder in comparison to the SIMBA: the corners and edges were shaved off the windshield. The shape was also a result of the used material – almost the entire body module is made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

Rosenbauer wanted to forge new paths with the chassis too. Together with MAN, the innovator developed their own chassis for the new aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle. The PANTHER was then revealed to the world’s public for the first time at the Austrian group’s 125th anniversary in 1991. And befittingly it was properly inaugurated by the head of the Civil Aviation Authority with a bottle of sparkling wine.

The presentation was a complete success. The technical data impressed the expert public just as much as the innovative design. Equipped with 1,000 hp, the PANTHER 8×8 accelerates from 0 to 80 km/h in 24 seconds and reaches a top speed of 135 km/h. Depending on the requirements, it can transport 10,000 to 14,000 liters of water, 1,000 to 2,000 liters of foam compound, and 500 kg of powder. The maximum in-service weight is 40 tons, which is distributed over four axles. It has additional technical features such as a camera system for improved visibility in poor weather conditions, automatic closing of the external swing doors at speeds of over 3 km/h, and an enhanced air-conditioner.

The first PANTHER is delivered to Geneva in 1991. In the same year it was awarded the Austrian National Prize for Design and was known company-wide as the “Design PANTHER” from here on out. To date, nothing can beat the PANTHER in terms of speed, acceleration, and design.