Service Apparatus What
you observe going down the road is probably not
really a fire "truck".
2009 Texas Fire Museum Muster
fire service vehicles are generically referred
to as “Apparatus”.
Regardless of what you may think, "Fire Trucks” are
not the most common apparatus you see going down
the street. Fire apparatus is categorized
by what function it can carry out.
of these functions include:
(Major) Ladders and Equipment
look at what you are really seeing.
Apparatus can be found in any color.
is what most fire departments call the basic vehicle
in this region of the country. But just about anywhere
you can find a department where these kinds of apparatus
are sometimes referred to as “Pumpers”.
Most of the time they could generically be referred
to as “triple capacity” apparatus. This
is because they can do three jobs. They can pump, transport
personnel, and carry hose. This is not a “fire
truck”. It is possible to have a single
function vehicle. New York has had vehicles with giant
pumps mounted on them. It can pump tens of thousands
of gallons a minute. But that is all it can do. A separate
vehicle, called a “Hose tender”, must be
dispatched with the pump vehicle. It is also possible
to have apparatus that can perform four or five major
functions. These are called "Quads" or "Quints".
Engines can also be classified as "Type I",
Type II" or "Type III". This pertains
to the size of pump etc. The engines shown above would
be "Type I". The E-One "Squad" shown
might be a "Type II" and the Brush truck
is possibly a Type III".
Engine 7 Newton County GA FD (MC photo)
A little Fire Apparatus History.
The first pump designed for fire fighting may have been created by Ctesibius
of Alexandria around the second century BC. The technology was subsequently
lost, when Alexandria burned, and reinvented in Europe during the 1500's.
Lote built the first fire engine made in America in
1743, although some hand pump units were imported from
Europe prior to that time.
Ericsson is credited with building the first steam
powered fire engine.
first self propelled steam engine (pumper) was built
in New York in 1841. It was the target of sabotage
and scorned by fire fighters and it's use was discontinued.
Self propelled (motorized) fire apparatus did not gain
acceptance until after 1900.
of the first motorized pumpers for Dallas, Texas. circa
1853, Alexander Bonner Latta invented the first practical
fire engine, a "steam" engine. Built and
tested in Cincinnati, Ohio, it's main feature was a
boiler made of two square chambers: the inner fire
box and the outer one for water and steam. That same
year, Cincinnati became the first American city to
replace volunteers with the horse-drawn steam fire
engine and to form a paid fire department.
Hose tender and steam pumper, East Dallas FD,
(Annexed by city of Dallas, 1889.)
Steam Pumpers in action. This is reported to be circa 1906
But notice the motorized vehicle to the far left.
Model T Fords were not produced until 1909.
Does this car look like an early Model T or Tin Lizzi to anyone?
Model A's were first sold in 1927. Any car experts out there with info?
Irving (TX) FD, circa 1935-1940
(TX) FD, circa 1947 or later.
Trucks- The first "trucks" were horse drawn wagons with
ladders and other equipment. This apparatus transports a large complement of
ladders and equipment. It usually does not have a pump. But we are still only
talking about the hand deployed "ground ladders". The ladders you
may see on “Engines” are few in number and generally not very long.
The ladders on trucks can be 50 feet long or more each. This
does not include the hydraulic operated, apparatus mounted, “aerial devices”.
These are the giant ladders or “Snorkels” seen on some apparatus.
They can be “articulating boom” (Snorkel) or large extension ladders
with or without platforms on the end. While an engine may carry 30 - 40 feet
of ladders, a truck may carry hundreds of feet of hand deployed "ground
ladders" plus a 100ft or more aerial device.
(or possible Quint) - Reedy Creek, Florida. Very
(Serves EPCOT, WDW -Click on photo for more info) (MC Photo)
Truck or Quint, New Albany Indiana- Ben Saladino photo
Click on photo for more Indiana Apparatus Photos.
Quints- This is a piece of apparatus
that enjoys some controversy. As the name implies
this vehicle carries out five functions. The two
most notably are that of pump and aerial device on
one vehicle. Many city managers think that if you
buy a quint you can do away with the need for having
both an engine and a truck. Fire chiefs tend to point
out that if you have only three or four people on
the quint that you have the function of either a
truck crew or an engine crew at a fire and not both.
It should also be noted that there are pump/engine
apparatus that have small ladders or booms mounted
on them. These are not “quints”. These
are often referred to as “Squirts” or
the like. It takes a large aerial device, mounted
on apparatus with a full size pump, with a full load
of hose, and a water tank to be called a quint. There
is a photo of a quint on the glossary page.
Ft. Worth Texas - Squad 2 - Note
the color of the apparatus.
This is an all purpose term often applied to smaller apparatus.
This can be a vehicle just for carrying extra personnel
or it can be a vehicle with some pumping ability or
other special function. Just about anything might be
called a "squad".
Flower Mound (Texas) FD "B501" and
Irving (TX) "Booster 11"
Pueblo of Laguna (NM) Brush 2" (All MC photos)
Truck / Grass Wagon / Patrol Truck / Booster -
There are vehicles for fighting wildland or grass
fires. Some of these are four wheel drive. In fact,
there are some vehicles constructed from Hum-V's.
(But this is too expensive for most fire departments.)
Most often this is a water tank, and a pump mounted
on a four wheel drive pick-up. Some of these vehicles
can be a simple as a pickup with a small tank, pump,
and line while other can be equipped with all kinds
of equipment. Some have plumbed in nozzles located
on the bumper that can be operated from the cab.
Notice that the "Booster 11" pictured above
is constructed with a low profile. There are no big
lights on top. This makes it better able to do double
duty in parking garages. (Something northern Irving,
Texas, has many of.)
is another all purpose regional, term. Often this is
applied to vehicles designed to fight grass or brush
fires. Although some departments use this term to describe
hazardous materials apparatus. In these cases they
can pump foam or other specialized agents for the control
of particular types of fires. The name comes from the
fact that these vehicles, in the past, had an entirely
separate “Auxiliary” motor
that ran the pump. This allowed these vehicles to pump
and roll at the same time. Modern fire apparatus pumps
get their power from the vehicle’s engine. The
transfer case forces you to choose between rolling
down the road or supplying the pump with power.
South Padre Island FD (TX) Beach Patrol and Rescue (MC photo)
the most part, “ambulances” no longer exist.
Texas state law has definitions of EMS apparatus. If
it has a paramedic and the equipment needed for “Advanced
Life Support” (ALS) it is called a “Mobile
Intensive Care Unit” or “M.I.C.U.” You
can find more about EMS in the section on "EMS & The
Unit - Kauai, Airport, Hawaii. (MC Photo)
Supervisor Units- These include Battalion
Chiefs, EMS Supervisors and many other types of applications.
Air and Lights support vehicle.
Apparatus- These include vehicles or dedicated
companies for special operations or situations. Examples
would be: Haz Mat, High Angle Rescue, Air Filling
Vehicles, Dive Teams, Rescue Boats and others. The
list is endless.
Click on photo for more Seattle area fire apparatus photos
by Ben Saladino
Special vehicles or other apparatus- Fire departments might be very imaginative when it comes to other vehicles or apparatus. You can see all kinds of vehicles for just about any special purpose.
Many departments have invested in off-road vehicles for event EMS service or rescue.
of apparatus- The numbering system for fire
apparatus might appear strange if you ever try to
examine it. Some departments, with only two stations
may designate their apparatus with two or three digit
numbers. There could be any one of several reasons
entire county or mutual aid system may be on one
numbering system. For example, a smaller city may
have the numbers 250-270 for their use. This way
communications are not confused at large fires.
Without such a system there may be three companies
called "Engine 1" at the same fire. (Note:
This may be a voluntary program so you may see
both numbering systems in the same county or at
the same fire.)
city may have several engines at one station. For
example, if Station 5 has three engines, they may
be numbered, "Engine 51", "Engine
52" and "Engine 53".
FDNY became fully paid they absorbed some other
fire departments. For example, the Bronx had there
own numbering system that duplicated other apparatus.
To solve this problem, all Bronx apparatus simply
received a "2" before their number. Engine 5 for
the Bronx became Engine 205 for FDNY.
city may have stations numbering 1-5 but also have
a "Central Fire Station". The apparatus
at this station might be numbered "11" or
fire apparatus numbering did not allow the use
of a "0" for identification. For decades,
apparatus was dispatched by ringing a bell. A "box" or
a piece of equipment was identified by a series
of bells. A signal of 2 bells then 3 bells meant
box or station 23. They did not have a way to ring
a "0". They also did not want to ring
nine times so the largest number of bells was five
or six. This means that you could not ring a "7".
After five or six the number might be "1-1".
Strange (but very efficient) numbering systems
and codes evolved from this.
officers will often have three digit numbers. This
is often derived from the number the city has designated
for the fire department. If the fire department
is "Department 5" to the city government,
then the chief of that department will be "500".
Assistant chiefs will be "501", "502" etc.
In some cities the vehicle numbers will reflect
the department number. The engine from Station
1 might be called "Engine 501" or even "Engine
511". You never know.
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