What Are Fire Trucks?

Fire trucks are massive vehicles that combine a water tank, pump and tools to help firefighters battle flames. These trucks are designed with emergency lights and sirens to alert people in the area that they’re coming, as well as equipment like computer systems that provide constant communication between the captain and crew on their way to an incident site. Each type of fire truck has its own unique features that make it better suited for certain situations.

Originally, the first firefighting apparatuses were horse-drawn wagons equipped with a water tank and pump. Over time, these wagons evolved into the fire engines that we’re familiar with today. Fire departments can now choose from a wide variety of fire trucks to meet their needs, but the basic components are the same.

Most of the equipment on fire trucks is designed to prevent injuries and property damage during a crisis. For example, some fire trucks feature a special fixed deluge gun known as a master stream, which can deliver a heavy stream of water anywhere the operator points it. Depending on the model, the fire truck may also have preconnected hose lines, or “preconnects,” that allow the crew to mount an aggressive attack on the fire as soon as they arrive at an incident site. These hose lines can be connected to more permanent sources, such as fire hydrants or water tenders, or they can draw water from natural resources by using a process called drafting.

Some models of fire truck even have a power-take-off (PTO) pump that allows the vehicle to remain in motion while fighting a fire. The onboard water tanks in fire trucks can hold up to 3,000 gallons of water, and they can be connected to more permanent sources such as hydrants or water tenders through fast-drain valves located on the sides of the truck. The tanks can also be used to saturate the air with water vapor, which can create a smoke screen that helps firefighters escape from burning buildings or other structures.

Many fire trucks come with foam systems, which can be used to extinguish flammable substances or slow the rate of spread of a fire. Manufactures like E-One offer foam systems that employ Class A and Class B agents, which can saturate materials or disperse them to prevent re-ignition.

Most fire departments choose to paint their fire trucks in traditional red to easily identify them in bad conditions. However, some departments use less traditional colors to stand out and be more identifiable. For example, one department uses yellow or lime green fire trucks to stand out against the surrounding environment in mountainous areas.

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