Fire trucks are large vehicles that carry water, hoses, ladders and other essential equipment to fight fires. They are available in many different configurations to accommodate the needs of fire departments.
The most common type of fire truck is a pumper or engine company, which can be used for structural fires or initial Emergency Medical Service (EMS) response. It is NFPA-compliant and has all the required equipment to support a variety of firefighting scenarios.
Most engine trucks have a tank or reservoir for storing water, which can be up to 3,000 gallons. The tank is connected to the pump, which pumps the water to the nozzles on the vehicle. The nozzles spray the water at different rates and pressures, depending on the kind of nozzles that are on the hose.
Some engines are equipped with a fixed deluge gun, which allows the firefighters to blast water from a master stream or hose directly at the blaze, as soon as they arrive on scene. This saves time on the job and makes it easier to contain the fire before it spreads.
These fire trucks are also often equipped with a preconnect, which is a hose line that is already connected to the truck and ready to use. This is especially helpful if the crew has to travel to the site of a fire and doesn’t have access to fire hydrants on the way.
Other specialized or support vehicles for the fire department include foam units, hazardous material units, airport crash tenders, divers, mobile command centers and fire command vehicles. They are designed to meet specific requirements and specifications, which vary by manufacturer and state.
Ladder Trucks are another type of fire apparatus that carries a ladder stemming from the top of the truck. Some of these ladders are hydraulically liftable and others are pneumatically liftable, but all require manual setup. Some are even fitted with a turntable to move the ladder up and down.
Wildland Fire Tenders are a unique fire apparatus that can handle off-road conditions, such as steep terrain and deep trenches. These trucks are typically 4×4 and designed to be sleek, maneuverable and stable.
The size of fire trucks varies by manufacturer and state, but most are equipped to handle up to 26,000 pounds when fully loaded. Some are able to transport up to three people and a full set of firefighting equipment.
Besides these standard types, a wide range of custom fire trucks are also built for departments’ specific needs. Among the specialized fire trucks are aerial ladders, foam tenders, hazardous material units and even air units that can be equipped with compressed air.
A fire command vehicle is the most senior officer’s personal vehicle, which is usually a modified SUV or pickup truck that has been customized for firefighting purposes. These cars are sometimes called fly cars or the fire chief’s car, and they can be equipped with sirens, lights, computers and other specialized equipment to serve as a point of contact at the scene.