How Much Do You Know About Fire Trucks?

By: Ian Fortey

How Much Do You Know About Fire Trucks?
Image: Steve Kelley aka mudpig / Moment/ Getty IMages

About This Quiz

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!

Fire has existed longer than humans have. When did we first invent the idea of a fire truck?
The early 1900s
The 1800s
The 1500s
Ancient Greece
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.

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How many gallons of water can some of the largest modern tanker-pumper trucks hold?
500 gallons
1,000 gallons
2,000 gallons
4,000 gallons
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.

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The water being hauled by a truck is in what they call the booster tank. What can a booster tank be made out of?
Aluminum
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.
Cast Iron
Titanium
Brass

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What was the point of a firehouse having dalmatians?
To boost morale
They ran ahead of the horses to clear a path.
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.
They could sniff out the fire back in the day.
They carried gear.

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What was the most efficient way people had come up with to fight fires before the invention of trucks?
The bucket brigade
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.
Citizen volunteers
Household hoses
Water carts

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It seems like a silly question, but if a bucket brigade required dozens or hundreds of buckets to fight a fire, where did all the buckets come from?
Horses carried them.
Cities had bucket storage areas.
Every citizen had one on their porch.
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.
Whoever showed up had to remember to bring one.

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We have fire hydrants in towns and cities to help fight fires, but what if the fire breaks out where no hydrant is available? What type of truck would be most helpful?
Pumper
Ladder
Tanker
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.
Heavy Rescue

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In what year did the first fire engine that didn't need to be pulled by a horse appear?
1812
1841
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.
1877
1901

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What incredible innovation followed the steam engine by making fire engines even more helpful in the year 1868?
The aerial ladder
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.
Pump trucks
The Jaws of Life
Sirens

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What's the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine?
There's no real difference.
The size
Engines carry pumps and hoses, trucks carry ladders.
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.
Trucks are always deployed, engines only for larger fires.

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What is the purpose of a Quint Truck?
It's a kind of heavy rescue truck.
It's a kind of ladder truck.
It's a kind of pump truck.
It serves as both an engine and a ladder truck.
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.

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Why does an engine have the ability to blast not just a stream of water but mist as well?
Mist absorbs heat faster.
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.
Mist covers more area.
Mist will keep the fire from spreading.
Mist contains the fire in one spot.

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What kind of equipment could you find on some heavy rescue trucks you won't find on other fire trucks?
A crane
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.
A 4,000-gallon tank
An aerial ladder
A dalmatian team

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What innovation was added to the aerial ladder on a truck just after World War Two?
Hydraulic lifts
Winches
A bucket or "cherry picker"
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.
Locking claws

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What is unique about a "pump and roll" truck?
The hoses roll and unroll automatically.
They require manual pumping.
They can be hooked up to any water supply.
They can shoot jets of water while they are in motion.
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.

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What's an advantage to a truck using foam to fight a fire?
It's lighter than water.
There's less recoil on the hose.
It uses about 75% less water.
All of the above
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.

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In what city did the first fire engine company go into service back in 1678?
Boston
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.
New York
Jamestown
Santa Fe

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What kind of truck requires a driver in the front as well as the back?
Pumper
Heavy rescue
Hook and ladder
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.
Quint

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What happened to the first steam-powered engine from back in 1841?
No one knows.
It's in a museum.
It was destroyed by firefighters who didn't like it.
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.
It was stolen.

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Ladder trucks have to deal with some harsh situations. How much wind can a ladder truck handle?
25 miles per hour
40 miles per hour
50 miles per hour
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.
60 miles per hour

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What was a serious danger for firefighters on the earliest motorized engines?
Exposed engine parts
High temperatures
Being thrown from the vehicle
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.
Explosions

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What kind of truck would you use if you needed to rescue someone who was trapped 300 feet up in a building?
The Super Ladder
The Bronto Skylift
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.
Heavy Duty Ladder Truck
Sky Rescue Truck

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What's the name of the truck they use at the Atlanta airport for fighting fires?
Colet K-15 Jaguar Crash Truck
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.
Rolls-Royce Firetruck
LBFD Crash 3
Quint 13

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What equipment must all trucks be carrying on them?
Hoses
First aid kit and an automatic external defibrillator
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.
Ladders
Individual breathing equipment

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Before the hydrant system was set up but after the bucket brigade was in use, what was one method firefighters had to use to get water?
Carried on horseback
Pumped from wooden pipes below the street
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.
Water towers
A hose network

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How much water, at a minimum, does a pumper need to be able to pump?
500 gallons per minute
1000 gallons per minute
750 gallons per minute
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.
100 gallons per minute

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How many feet of 2.5" or larger hose does a pumper truck carry, at a minimum?
400
500
600
800
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".

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How did Russian tank trucks fight fires?
Foam
Extremely high powered water jets
Flame-retarding projectiles
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.
Fire-suppressing gas

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What two metals are the pumps on fire engines made from?
Stainless steel and aluminum
Aluminum and bronze
Stainless steel and bronze
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.
Stainless steel and titanium

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What was rigged up to fight oil fires in Kuwait in the 1990s when a normal fire engine could not have done the job?
The Bronto truck
Heavy Rescue pump trucks
A jet engine strapped to a tank
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.
Several hundred trucks working together

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What's the difference between a pumper and an attack pumper?
Attack pumper is bigger.
Attack pumper is smaller.
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.
Attack pumper is for forest fires.
Attack pumpers shoot water while in motion.

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What company made the word's first aerial truck?
Seagrave
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.
Ford
Youngman
GMC

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The left side of your truck has a name. What is it?
Pump side
Load side
Street side
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.
Access Side

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A new fire truck needs to be washed frequently with what during its first 6 months of operation?
Warm water
Soapy water
A sponge
Cold water
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.

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What kind of brakes do most fire trucks have?
Air-operated
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.
Magnetic
Hydraulic
Electronic

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