Have you ever wondered just what the heck those fire guys (and gals) do with those trucks? Do you even know where your nearest fire station is at?

The first fire truck was invented in the early 1720's, and had a water pump, hand pumps, and reservoirs. It was called the Little Newshan. It delivered up to 60 gallons per minute (the equivalent of two garden hoses). The wheels were made of wood, and were 2-3 inches wide and about a foot high.

Then in the early 19th century, they decided to propel fire trucks with horse-powered traction to make the traveling less complicated. In 1852, fire trucks began using engines, and that was when the steam-powered fire truck was introduced.

Modern fire trucks consist of many different models. Their classifications are broken down based on the type of equipment and how much water they carry. It also is highly dependent on the area the truck resides in. For example, a tanker for Hillsborough County, FL (where I live) carries 3500 gallons of water, and has a deck gun capable of spraying up to 1200 gallons per minute.

(Quick Tangent: Water weighs approximately 8.33 lbs. At 1200 gallons per minute, that means we are flowing just under 10,000 lbs of water a minute on to whatever is burning.)

However, the City of Tampa (located within Hillsborough County - but have their own department) considers Tankers to be Brush Trucks, which are four-wheel drive vehicles with tanks and equipment for fighting brush fires. Here is a quick run down of what each does (with our department):

  • Class A Pumper - Carries 750-1200 gallons of water. Generally has a engine capable of pumping up to 1500 gallons per minute. Has generally 4-5 preconnects (1 3/4" connections for handlines). Capable of carrying between 4-7 firefighters.
  • Class B Pumper - Carries usually 500 gallons of water. Pump Rating is around 500 gallons per minute. Usually used as a Squad type vehicle to respond to small fires (i.e. Dumpster Fires, etc.)
  • Tankers - Carry varying amounts of water, but it's primary purpose is to get water to fires where hydrants are not nearby. Ours carry a Dump Tank that unfolds like a big swimming pool, and it can dump its entire load of 3500 gallons within 59 seconds into the tank.
  • Command Operation Vehicles - Command Post for *large* scale incidents. Generally consists of laptops, communication devices, etc, for management purposes. Carries no water.
  • HazMat Vehicle - Carries highly trained personnel for responding to Hazardous Material Incidents. Usually does not carry water, but carries some of the coolest toys. Not a good truck to see in your neighborhood, though generally you won't be in your neighborhood if it is there.
  • Heavy Rescue - Carries equipment for heavy rescue operations such as entrapment, major car accidents, etc.
In our station, we house two Class A engines, a Tanker, a brush Truck F-550, and a utility truck (a small F-350 with a utility body that carries some heavy rescue equipment, including an acetylene torch). On our engines we carry Hurst tools (think Jaws of Life), Medical Equipment (80% of our calls are medical calls), Thermal Imager (allows us to see right through smoke), Lots of hose, a variety of hand tools, and lots of fun other toys.

You can see one of our engines at http://www.lutzvfd.com by clicking the interactive firetrucks (shamless plug - it took me 3 months to build that thing) where you can view every piece of equipment on there.

And, just in case you were wondering, you should pull over for emergency vehicles, unless you want to learn How to piss off the guys in the fire truck.

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