Firefighting is not a task a person can do without help. Fire is unpredictable, dangerous and impatient. It needs to be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. That's why humans have been coming up with new and better ways to manage fires for literally thousands of years. Fire isn't going away any time soon, so we need to figure out how to deal with it. And of all the innovations we've managed to devise to handle this force of nature, none has been nearly as impressive as the fire truck.
Fire trucks and fire engines are the most powerful tools in our arsenal to not just quell a fire when it arises, but minimize the spread of damage and, most importantly, save lives. Trying to stop someone's property from burning is all well and good, but saving people from the devastation is key. So we've come up with all kinds of variations on the fire truck, all kinds of ways to use them and make the job of firefighting more efficient and effective.
Fire trucks have been around for a long time now in one form or another, so there's a lot to know. Think you have a good grasp on the world of the fire truck? Put on the siren and let's take the quiz!
Trucks are a relatively new invention, but building something to help fighting fires is not. In Ancient Greece, they didn't have the truck but they had the idea for a pump. A large pump that could be directed at a fire to shoot a blast of water existed way back then, though it never caught on that well.
A truck like the All-Poly Series T-Style Tanker-Pumper can hold up to 4,000 gallons of water. Most trucks don't carry quite so much and will usually hold around 1,000 gallons.
Booster tanks are incredibly heavy thanks to the 1,000+ gallons of water inside. As such, the tank itself should be lightweight. Aluminum is a good material for a tank, while brass, titanium and steel are not.
Dalmatians got along well with horses so they could handle the task of running ahead of the animals without being scared in the days before trucks existed. The dogs would bark to let bystanders know to get out of the way.
Before the extremely helpful fire truck existed, the bucket brigade was the next best idea. Essentially you create a chain of people between a fire and a water source, constantly passing full buckets of water forward to be tossed on the blaze and empty buckets back to be refilled.
The bucket brigade needed buckets to work. During colonial times, you would have a bucket sitting in the corner somewhere on your porch or out front of the house to make it easy to grab and assist in the firefighting effort.
With no readily available source of water like from a hydrant, firefighters need a tanker on the scene. Also called a tender truck, these are the big ones that carry all the water.
Horses finally caught a break in the year 1841. It was that year that the first steam engines were rolled out, making it much easier and faster to respond to an emergency situation.
Daniel D. Hayes invented what is also called the Hayes Truck, but most of us know as the ladder truck with the extendable ladder. His invention was able to help rescue people who were too high in a building to be reached by traditional ladders, which saved lives.
A fire truck is a vehicle that has ladders on board. An engine is a vehicle that brings the equipment like hoses and pumps to the scene of a fire. Both can be necessary at a fire.
The Quint Truck serves as both ladder truck and engine. The name "quint' refers to the five functions it can provide - ground ladders, aerial device, water tank, pumps, and hoses.
When an engine blasts a fine mist at a fire it serves two potential purposes. The first is to absorb the heat of the blaze and the second is to expand as it heats and displace oxygen, ideally depriving the fire of more fuel.
Heavy rescue trucks are often used for specialized situations and they tend to carry large emergency equipment, such as cranes, saws and winches. Depending on the situation, the capabilities of a heavy rescue truck can vary greatly.
The cherry picker bucket was added to the top of some aerial ladders to make it easier to facilitate saving people trapped on higher floors in awkward positions such as around corners and keeping them and the firefighter more secure at that height. The bucket meant citizens who may be injured or in shock wouldn't have to hold on and risk falls as readily.
Pump and Roll trucks are able to fire jets of water while the truck is in motion. These are particularly useful for fighting woodland fires when the truck is approaching a large area that may be engulfed in flames.
There are some considerable advantages to using foam when fighting a fire. Since foam expands, it can be condensed into a smaller space and will end up weighing less than water. It also uses much less water and therefore can be less destructive overall.
Firefighting had, of course, existed before 1678, even in Boston. 1678 was the year that Boston started a real paid fire department. They had a fire chief and were full-time employees of the city.
A hook and ladder truck is a pretty ungainly piece of machinery that resembles a massive 18-wheeler. A driver needs to steer in the front like a normal truck but another driver, called the tillerman, needs to drive the rear to help the massive thing navigate around without crashing into things.
Though we can consider the first steam engine an innovation looking back on it now, it wasn't the case in 1841. Firefighters in New York really disliked the machine and went out of their way to destroy it because they thought it was dangerous and unreliable.
A ladder truck can do its job in some very high winds, up to 50 miles per hour. Beyond that, it is unsafe and would put the truck, the firefighters and whoever they are attempting to rescue at too great a risk.
The earliest fire engines didn't actually include a lot of seating, so many firefighters had to literally hang on to the outside to travel to the fire. On sharp turns, it wasn't unheard of for a firefighter to be thrown from the truck. Some even died this way.
The Bronto or Brontosaurus Skylift is like a ladder truck only so much bigger. The hydraulic ladder can reach heights of up to about 300 feet, making rescues in skyscrapers possible.
The Colet K-15 Jaguar Crash truck looks like it came out of a sci-fi movie. Because an airport fire could potentially be explosively disastrous in a very short amount of time, airport fire trucks need to be incredibly fast. The Colet K-15 Jaguar can crack 80 miles per hour.
All trucks must have first aid equipment on board. As well, an AED, or automatic external defibrillator, is also necessary equipment to have available. This ensures that there is always the minimum equipment available for potential rescues.
Pressurized hydrant systems have been incredible innovations, but before them, there were wooden pipes. Firefighters could access the pipe through a plug and the water, which wasn't pressurized, would have to be pumped out for use.
In order to meet established standards, a pumper needs to be able to pump at 750 gallons per minute. That means a typical tank with 1,000 gallons of water in it will be empty in under a minute and a half.
A pumper truck has to have at least 800 feet of 2.5" hose on board, or less of a larger-sized hose. It will also have at least 400 feet of some smaller hoses sizes as well ranging from 1.5" to 2".
Russia actually built some firefighting tanks, as in machines on treads with cannons. The tanks were equipped with rocket launchers that could fire flame-retarding projectiles into a fire. It was a very destructive way to stop a fire.
All pumps on an engine must be made from stainless steel and bronze. The shaft will be made from steel and the impeller is made from bronze.
Oil fires are incredibly difficult to put out. The solution to the Kuwaiti oil fires was using the engine from a Mig-21 fighter jet attached to a Russian tank to blast the fire. Water hoses were also used and the jet engine turned the water to steam and hit the fire with such force it separated it from the oil that fueled it, snuffing the fire.
An attack pumper is a smaller, faster vehicle than a normal pump truck. The purpose of the attack pumper is to get in somewhere quicker than you could with a big truck, and potentially rescue people as well from an area inaccessible to larger trucks.
Seagrave is the oldest manufacturer of fire apparatus in the US. The company was founded in 1881 in Detroit, Michigan. Since that time, the company has moved to Wisconsin and also has a manufacturing facility located in Canada.
The left side of your apparatus is the street side. The right side is the officer side. The reason for this is that's just what side of the vehicle things are on.
For the first six months that a new fire engine or fire truck is in service, cold water should be used frequently during washes. This actually helps the paint harden and will prevent spotting.
The majority of brakes in fire apparatus are air brakes. Larger vehicles often are equipped with air brakes that operate by compressed air forcing a piston to apply pressure to the brake pad and stop the vehicle.