Equipment Specs

Fire Truck

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Transportation Equipment
Fire Truck
Fire trucks
(fire engines) are modified trucks built to extinguish fires. Fire trucks are used to store and transport water, fire retardant, fire fighters, fire fighting equipment, and medical supplies.


[edit] History

[edit] Modest Beginnings

The very earliest organized fire fighting method was called the bucket brigade. Every household in a town was legally required to own a handheld fire bucket. In the event of a blaze, the whole town would form two lines adjacent to the fire and pass buckets of water from hand-to-hand until the end of one line, and then the empty bucket would be passed back up the other line.[1]

The world’s first fire truck was invented in 1720, called the Little Newsman. It was a simple wagon with a water pump, hand pumps, and water reservoir. It was capable of delivering as much water as two modern garden hoses (60gallons/minute). This was less water per minute than could be achieved with the bucket brigade; however it was much more efficient. [2]


The first paid firefighting crews came about in the 1850’s and 1860’s. At this time they were still using simple wagons to store the pump and reservoir. In the early days, fire fighters had to push their own wagons. They literally ran to fires!  It was common for there to be more than one fire fighting company in a city. These crews developed fierce rivalries. They would race each other to the fire to stake claim to the best water source. Fights over water were common, as was sabotaging each others’ equipment. Companies hired thugs to protect themselves and to make sure their equipment and water sources were left alone.[3][4]

[edit] Horsepower

Horse-drawn fire engines started to come to market in the 1850’s also. Originally, the firefighters had to run alongside the horse and wagon. Sideboards were invented to alleviate this problem. Then, in the 1880’s the steam pumper was invented. This pump used a fire to heat water to create steam, so suction would built up and could be used to pump water. Now that fire wagons had larger pumps and started to carry people, they became too heavy for horses to draw.[5]

In the early 1900’s, the invention of the combustion engine revolutionized the fire fighting industry. You could pump more water, faster, with a gasoline powered fire truck. However firefighters were slow to adopt this technology. They viewed the fire truck as a replacement to the traditional fire fighting crew, and were concerned for their job security.[6]

The first “modern” fire trucks came after the invention of the modern water pump and the aerial ladder in the 1950’s and 1960’s.[7]

[edit] Features

[edit] Fluid Storage

Fire trucks typically have three ways to store fluids.  The "primary water tank" is located within the fire truck and can store 1,000 gallons of water.  The "drop tank" is a collapsible tank which can be deployed on the ground to accumulate water from low pressure sources.  A drop tank can hold up to 2,000 gallons of water.  Lastly, there is a "foam system" which carries 20 gallons of flame retardant foam. [8]

[edit] Hoses

Fire trucks have a variety of hoses for different purposes.  The most commonly used hoses are called "crosslay hoses".  These are usually 200 feet long and are capable of 95 gallons per minute in water flow.  The most powerful water dispenser is the "deluge gun"; a powerful cannon located on the top of the truck which can expel 1000 gallons of water per minute.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, the "booster line" is the least formidable fire hose.  They are narrow hoses with low pressure and are used for putting out small, non-threatening fires.  For time sensitive situations, "preconnect hoses" are already connected to the truck so they can be used immediately upon arrival at a fire.  They are capable of 250 gallons per minute.  "Main hoses" are the what is used to connect the fire truck to a fire hydrant.  They are 5" in diameter and can handle 1000 gallons/minute. [9]

[edit] Other

Fire trucks have ample room for storage.  They house a variety of tools and equipment in order to deal with the multitude of possibilities which can occur during a fire.  To tear into walls and ceilings, pike poles and sheet rock pullers are used.  To turn on the fire hydrant, they have a hydrant wrench.  To preserve furniture which is on a lower floor than the fire, they have protective slip covers.[10]

There are also more complex tools onboard.  To relieve a building of smoke, there is an exhaust fan powered by the trucks' engine.  To be able to drive in slippery conditions without wasting time attaching chains, there is an automatic tire chain system. [11]

[edit] Types

Pumper: Pumpers are the most common type of fire truck, complete with a water pump, water tank, and hoses. It is designed to be the first truck to respond to a fire.

Ladders: These trucks come equipped with large hydraulic ladders which allow for the rescue of people trapped above ground level. It also allows for a higher base from which to douse the fire.  Ladders use outriggers to stabilize the vehicle.

Tiller: These trucks consist of a ladder mounted onto a semi-truck trailer.

Hydraulic platform: The difference between a “ladder truck” and a “hydraulic platform” is that the hydraulic platform has an articulated arm which allows for more flexible manoeuvring in the air.

Water tender: Water tenders are large water trucks used in rural areas were fire hydrants are hard to come by. These trucks can also be used to suck-in water during flood conditions.

Wildland fire engine: Rough terrain pumper.

Crash tender: Fire truck which responds to aircraft fires. [12]

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] References

  2. HISTORY OF FIRETRUCKS. Urbana Fire Department [July 28, 2009].
  4. Firefighting in the Pre-Automotive Era (pg 41). Fire Engines, By Hand Halberstadt [July 28, 2009].
  7. Fire Truck History 1900 - 1960. [July 28, 2009].
  8. How Fire Engines Work. [July 28, 2009].
  9. How Fire Engines Work. [July 28, 2009].
  10. How Fire Engines Work. [July 28, 2009].
  11. How Fire Engines Work. [July 28, 2009].
  12. Fire Truck History. [July 28, 2009].