9 Different Types of Fire Trucks Explained (With Photos)

The modern fire truck is frequently thought of as having flashing lights, deafening sirens, and a massive waterfall. The enormous, brightly colored fire truck is one of the biggest, most obvious signs of a fire scene. As the vehicle travels from the fire station to the fire scene, what initially began as a simple water pump mounted on wagon wheels has evolved into a complete vehicle carrying all the necessary equipment like ladders, power tools, and rescue gear.

Types of Fire Trucks

Many individuals in various regions frequently use the terms “fire truck” and “fire engine” interchangeably when referring to the suppression of fires. However, there are still many fire departments and fire services where people refer to separate and unique sorts of vehicles or fire apparatuses when they talk about fire trucks and fire engines, therefore this has turned into quite a controversy in modern times.

So, are fire engines and trucks the same thing or do they differ in specific ways?

Fire Engine vs. Fire Truck

A large red vehicle, more like a four-wheel drive, that is constantly honking its horns, blaring its sirens, and driving as quickly as it can to the location of the fire scene is likely to be seen whenever there is a fire reported at any possible location, be it a restaurant, a residential building, or a factory.

You may wonder to yourself or ask those who are with you what the red vehicle is as you move out of the way and possibly relocate your automobile to the side of the road to make room for it. Is it a fire engine or a fire truck?

Despite the fact that both are employed by the fire department as specialist apparatus all over the world whose main goal is to provide protection. They also serve various purposes.

Fire Truck – What is its origin?

Fires are without a doubt as old as human civilization itself, which is why communities and cultures have always felt the need to devise structured means of defending themselves from unforeseen fires.

Additionally, with rural and urban regions becoming so densely populated and the world’s population growing so quickly, there is a greater need than ever for local governments to develop fire protection policies. The need to take action to prevent the new towns from being burned by these flames became particularly clear during the establishment of multiple American colonies.

Wagon Wheels or Water Pumps

Pumps-on-wheels apparatus, which essentially consisted of a water supply pump installed on a wooden chassis, was the first fire apparatus to ever be created. The big lever that was also linked to this framework served mostly as a place for the firemen’s feet to rest.

Pumps have been around since the Roman era, but when utilized for fire extinguishing, they proved to be a little challenging. This is partly due to the fact that most early pumps merely spurted water rather than spraying it, which made it very difficult to produce an appropriate stream of water. Back ago, this apparatus—called “bucket brigades”—was also employed to extinguish fires in Europe.

Gasoline Engines

Despite the fact that many concerns were resolved by the use of horse-drawn steam trucks, logistical challenges remained significant for firemen. Large teams of horses needed to be stabled, fed, and watered, which took a lot of time and money.

When the 19th century arrived, gasoline engines replaced the horses that propelled these vehicles. The fire trucks were propelled by gasoline engines from the First World War through the 1920s. People began to observe a steady rise in efficiency as gasoline totally replaced the usage of steam. Because the water pumps were considerably better able to produce a forceful stream of water, these engines proved to be faster and more effective than horse-drawn steam-powered vehicles.

Horse-drawn pumpers

Pumps on wheels were eventually supplanted by horse-drawn steam pumpers due to post-Industrial Revolution technological developments. To pump water at the fire scene, teams of horses were deployed to pull steam vehicles.

From the 1840s through the First World War, especially in the United States, this occurred. A team of three to four men who had to be on the scene in order to run the pump, as well as huge horses that pulled heavy steam-powered fire vehicles, were required to be present.

Modern Fire Trucks

The ladder trucks that were created in the first part of the 20th century are largely responsible for the fire trucks that you see today. The tremendous upward and outward growth of American cities throughout that century, which was one of its most distinguishing traits, led to the creation of these vehicles. A firefighting tool that was reliable, efficient, and guaranteed complete protection was urgently needed, according to American civic fighters. Additionally, the flames were more frequent at higher altitudes, which urgently demanded a ladder truck.

The “Hayes Ladder,” which was significantly different from the conventional kind of ladders that had been in use up until that point, was a key invention that made use of ladder technology.

Types of Fire Trucks

Conventional Fire Truck

This is a typical style of a fire truck with an engine designed primarily for fighting fires. It is used to transport the emergency responders to the fire scene as well as vital supplies of water and other equipment like hoses and tools.

The type of tools carried by conventional fire apparatus depends significantly on elements like the vehicle’s size and the terrain it must traverse. The latter can be either a gentler or more rugged terrain.

Pumper Truck

These are among the fire apparatus that are most frequently utilized by fire departments, and they are frequently referred to as “triple combination pumpers.” They resemble wagons and are frequently equipped with a water tank, fire pump, and hose body. Any fire scene will have a pumper, which is primarily utilized to give firefighters access to vital equipment that will help put out the fire and save the victims.

Turntable Ladder Truck

In order to access those regions that are quite high up, this unique aerial apparatus uses a big telescoping ladder. This fire truck has a turntable at the back of it that may be used to erect a tall ladder, hence its unusual name. The ladder can pivot thanks to the turntable, which makes it simpler to direct the water spray in the correct direction.

Modern turntable ladders frequently contain a built-in water feature. Some of these features include a pre-piped waterway that spans the entire ladder, while others include an onboard supply reservoir.

Tiller Truck

The tiller truck, a type of ladder truck with a turntable ladder mounted to a semi-trailer truck, is a firefighting tool. Similar to a hybrid design, it employs both a trailer and a tractor. It’s two drivers and independent steering wheels for the front and back wheels are an interesting feature.

One of the tiller truck’s key qualities is its extraordinary ability to navigate relatively efficiently because to this divide between the two. Sharper turns are the result, especially on winding highways and small streets.

Heavy Rescue Vehicle

This kind of fire apparatus, as its name implies, is specialized gear utilized in technical rescue missions. One of the reasons you frequently see large rescue vehicles not only at a fire scene but also in significant traffic collisions, swift-water rescues, and building collapses is because it is sometimes referred to as a “rescue squad.”

Wildland Fire Engines

Wildland fire engines’ primary goal is to be able to navigate difficult terrain while having a high clearance for the suspension and wheels. on order to put out flames on challenging slopes and mountains, these types of fire trucks are utilized instead of the standard conventional trucks.

The majority of these cars have four-wheel drives, which work exceptionally well in locations with rocky terrain.


The A-Wagon, also known as a hazardous materials device, is a unique vehicle intended to put out grass and brush fires. The reason this fire apparatus has a specialized name is that, in the past, these trucks had separate auxiliary motors that released water from the pump. According to this, the motor might enable the vehicle to roll and pump simultaneously.


This fire engine is one of those ill-known fire trucks that has some controversy around it. Quint performs five essential tasks, two of which include transporting a pump and an aerial device on a single truck. Additionally, it performs other tactical firefighting tasks like providing firefighters with a master stream that includes a pump and hose, granting them access to elevated areas with the aid of aerial devices and ground ladders, and, finally, ensuring a constant supply of water via its water tanks and pumps.

Water Tenders

These are frequently referred to as mobile water supply apparatuses with the main function of gathering, transporting, and delivering water to emergency fire scenes. Since having a sufficient supply of water is their primary function or goal, the majority of these vehicles are relatively basic and simple in construction and frequently lack a pump. Since they have two-wheel drive and are often driven by one or two firefighters, water tenders are not designed for off-road operation.

You should be able to distinguish between a fire truck and a fire engine the next time you see one at a fire scene now that you are aware of their key distinctions!

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About the author

Kara Clayton

Kara Clayton is a freelance writer by profession and is also a web enthusiast, a nature lover, a photographer, a travel freak, a music lover and a fitness freak by hobby. She has done her graduation in English Literature and her Post-graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication. She is in love with her profession of curating articles on different niches like health, fashion, finance, lifestyle, technology, business and her USP is her simple yet appealing style of writing.

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