Types of Fire Trucks and Their Uses

fire trucks

Keeping us safe from fires, rescues and more, firefighters are a crucial part of our daily lives. But it isn’t just the firefighters themselves who keep us safe; it’s also the fire trucks they use to fight blazes, carry equipment and reach people in need. Firetrucks come in all shapes and sizes to meet the unique needs of local communities. Read on to learn more about the different kinds of fire trucks and their uses.

While red has become synonymous with firetrucks, they may be a number of other colors, depending on where you live and the type of truck. Regardless of color, however, firetrucks all come equipped with the same essential tools and equipment to battle a blaze. Some of these include thermal imaging cameras, self-contained breathing apparatuses, a master stream or fixed deluge gun, hose lines and more.

Engine trucks, or fire hydrant trucks, are the vehicles most people imagine when they think of a firetruck. They’re typically built on commercial 4×4 chassis and can be used in both wildland and suburban settings. These trucks usually have a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs and can transport anywhere from 50 to 400 gallons of water. Some have preconnects, which are hose lines that are already connected and ready to use so firefighters can begin combatting the blaze as soon as they arrive on scene.

Ladder trucks are what most people picture when they think of a firetruck. These vehicles often feature a hydraulic ladder that can extend up to a building’s roof. Ladder trucks also come equipped with search and rescue equipment, forcible entry tools, a water tank and more. Some have turntable ladders, which allow them to go inside of a structure and access the hardest-to-reach areas.

Water trucks, or water tenders, are vehicles that supply water to the other types of firetrucks on the scene. These can be sourced from fire hydrants, lakes or other bodies of water and are sometimes used in wildland settings when the firefighters have to travel long distances to get to a blaze. A water truck can also be a tanker that delivers pressurized hoses to the firefighters on the ground.

Some fire trucks have foam systems, which are used in both wildland and urban settings to combat a wide range of situations. These can include Class A foam, which saturates materials and prevents them from re-igniting, as well as Class B foam, which is useful for incidents involving flammable liquids.

Special operations trucks are a type of firetruck designed to transport equipment that is too heavy for ladder trucks and fire engines to carry. Some of the equipment they can carry includes circular saws, cutting torches, cranes, winches, generators and wooden cribbing. Many fire departments also choose to convert vehicles like boats, helicopters and ATVs into firefighting trucks for more versatility in fighting a blaze.

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