10 Different Types of Fire Trucks (With Photos)

Apparently, not every truck qualifies to serve as a fire truck. Firefighting is a sensitive occupation, and as such, it is done with precise precautions, including properly tested and validated “firefighting apparatus.”

Fire trucks have been redesigned over many years – Initially, fire trucks were merely large vehicles with a water tank affixed to them – today, fire trucks are built to feature flashing lights, screeching sirens, a massive water cascade, and quite other technologies based on the “type.”

Yes, there are different types of fire trucks, each designed for specific firefighting purpose(s). Well, not all of these firefighting truck types are still actively used. This article explains all you should know about the wide variety of fire truck types.

What is a Fire Truck?

A fire truck (also called a fire engine or fire lorry) is a type of vehicle used for firefighting. It is classified by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as a firefighting apparatus.

Many fire departments use the terms “fire trucks” and “fire engines” interchangeably, but to some, the terms refer to two different fire apparatuses.

Whether you call it a fire engine or fire truck, what matters is that you’re referring to a type of vehicle – usually painted red or lime yellow (in the US) – used by firefighting departments across all countries of the world to put off fire incidents.

The standard fire truck transports both firefighters and a couple of other firefighting apparatuses to the scene. The term “fire truck” is generally used to refer to a wide variety of firefighting vehicles used by different fire teams and departments.

Different Types of Fire Trucks

1. Conventional Fire Trucks

This is the most common type you’d see in firefighting scenes. Conventional fire trucks only convey essential firefighting apparatuses/tools, such as ladders, fire extinguishers, hydraulic rescue tools, breathing apparatuses, and floodlights, to the scene.

Well, these aforementioned tools/equipment to be transported aren’t standard; the exact tools conveyed to the scene using conventional fire trucks depends on the firefighting needs for that moment and the fire department going for the operation.

Conventional fire trucks may have a fixed deluge gun (master stream) and may be larger or smaller – there are simply different variations of this fire truck type, and it is based on the fire department and country.

2. Pumper Trucks

Pumper trucks are not all that sophisticated and are among the most commonly used fire trucks. This type of fire truck is mainly used as the primary firefighting apparatus – equipped with a fire pump, hose body, water tank, and some other essentials similar to conventional fire trucks.

A common type of pumper truck used by fire departments is called a “triple combination pumper.”

3. Quints

Quints are multipurpose fire trucks, which means they are versatile in performance. A Quint fire truck combines the functions of a typical fire engine, aerial ladder, and water tank. In other words, a Quint truck acts as a water tank, fire pump, ground ladder, hose bed, and aerial ladder – all these are pretty handy for firefighting.

The water tank capacity of Quints is typically 300 gallons, and they offer at least 40 cubic feet of free space for firefighting equipment storage.

Basically, Quints must feature an aerial ladder or elevating platform. Some fire departments use Quints only for firefighting because they almost combine everything needed; however, this type of fire truck doesn’t carry more people.

Combining an aerial ladder, at least 40 cubic feet of storage space, and a water tank of capacity, not less than 300 gallons, makes Quints appear different – and better – than other fire truck types.

4. Wildland Fire Engines

Photo by LAFD via Flickr

Unlike Quints, wildland fire engines serve a single purpose. They are single-purpose firefighting vehicles designed to apply high pressure in putting out fire scenes.

Due to the compact design and build of wildland engines, they can easily meander through heavy traffic to get to a fire scene much faster than any other type of firefighting vehicle.

Also, wildland fire engines are sturdily built so they can equally drive through rough paths while getting to a fire scene. They vary in size, with the smallest one weighing around 14,000 pounds. This type of fire truck is best used when the terrains to the fire scene are hilly or rough.

Well, wildland fire engines are not spacious, so they don’t carry much equipment along. However, they can pump water while driving – this flexibility is equally one of the reasons why wildland engines are used for specific firefighting scenarios.

5. Fire Engines

Remember we said most fire departments use “fire engines” and “fire trucks” interchangeably, but in practicality, they are different? Yes, modern fire engines – especially the ones used in the US – are typically equipped with specialty nozzles and different firefighting tools, depending on the fire department.

But then, fire engines are single-purpose firefighting vehicles. These engines are sent out first when there’s a fire scene because they can store a lot of water, which can help to contain the fire outbreak before finding a fire hydrant where hoses can be connected.

Fire engines are also called pumpers or bucket brigades by some firefighting teams. For a firefighting vehicle to be considered a fire engine, it must meet the minimum requirements for pump flow, tank capacity, personnel capacity, and hose length.

6. Tiller Trucks

Photo by Corde11 via Flickr

Also referred to as tractor-drawn aerial, tiller ladder, or hook-and-ladder truck, this type of fire truck features a rotatable ladder attached to the back of the semi-trailer truck. The semi-trailer truck is mostly used because of its better maneuverability than Type 1 and Type 2 firefighting apparatuses.

Tiller fire trucks require two drivers — one in the front and the other at the rear. This is because tiller trucks have two separate sections controlled differently as per the need.

A typical tiller fire truck combines the functions of quints and a semi-trailer truck. They are best used on congested metropolitan roads or uphill paths.

7. Aerial Trucks

Aerial trucks or ladder trucks, platform trucks, whichever you prefer to call them, are a type of firefighting vehicle equipped with a long ladder that extends from the top rear of the vehicle.

The ladder is usually very long – can extend to the upper stories of buildings. This type of fire truck is used when there’s a fire scene on a skyscraper or multi-story building.

The ladders on aerial trucks serve as an escape route for people stranded on upper levels of buildings or blocks of flats where the fire broke out. Aerial trucks are identified by the fixed or rotating telescopic ladder that extends from the rear in one direction (for fixed ladders) or any direction (for rotating ladders).

8. Heavy Rescue Vehicles

This fire truck type is deployed for specific reasons – it is not used for common firefighting needs. These are specialty firefighting vehicles used for technical rescue operations, which is why they are also called the “rescue squad.”

Heavy rescue vehicles are not only used for firefighting; you’d spot these trucks in building collapse venues, massive traffic collisions, and other scenarios where a “heavy rescue” operation is needed.

This type of fire truck comes equipped with many firefighting tools, including battering rams for forcible entry, sledgehammers, flood lights and flashlights, shovels, shears, hydraulic spreaders, saws, ropes, prybars, chains, pumps, winches, generator, blankets, stretchers, and first aid equipment.

9. Water Tenders/Tankers

A water tender (or tanker) is a firefighting vehicle that comes with a sizable water tank, a few hoses, and a pump. Water tenders are basically used to convey additional water to a fire scene to support other fire trucks that are already on the scene.

The integrated hose(s) and pump are for transferring water to other firefighting trucks; they do not produce powerful pumps to quench or contain heavy fires.

10. Brush Truck (A-Wagons)

This is a smaller type of fire truck; it is used for putting out grass fires. Basically, A-Wagons are equipped with a pump, and they can be driven through the toughest terrains you can imagine.

The water tank on this type of fire truck is relatively small, so the truck is not used widely or for heavy fires.  

What are the Different Types of Fire Engines?

Fire engines are classified as type 1, type 2, type 3, to type 7, and each one has specific functions and requirements. Hereunder is a table that clarifies the differences between the various types of fire engines. These standards are set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

RequirementsType 1Type 2Type 3Type 4Type 5Type 6Type 7
Tank Minimum Capacity (gal)30030050075040015050
Pump Minimum Flow (gal/min)1,00050015050505010
At Rated Pressure (psi)150150250100100100100
Hose: 2 1/2-inch1,2001,000N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Hose: 1 1/2-inch5005001,000300300300N/A
Hose: 1-inchN/AN/A500300300300200
Ladders per NFPA 1901YesYesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Master Stream 500 gal/min.YesN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Pump and RollN/AN/AYesYesYesYesYes
Maximum GVWR (lb)N/AN/AN/AN/A26,00019,50014,000
Personnel (minimum)4332222
Table source: PierceMFG


These are the 10 different types of fire trucks used by different fire departments globally. A fire department may have many of these trucks, or all of them, to deploy them when necessary. Fire trucks are built sturdily, and the designs vary greatly based on many factors.

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