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Fire engine operated by Räddningstjänsten Falköping in Sweden

A fire engine, also known in some places as a fire truck or fire lorry, is a road vehicle (usually a truck) that functions as a firefighting apparatus. The primary purposes of a fire engine include transporting firefighters and water to an incident as well as carrying equipment for firefighting operations. Some fire engines have specialized functions, such as wildfire suppression and aircraft rescue and firefighting, and may also carry equipment for technical rescue.

Many fire engines are based on commercial vehicle chassis that are further upgraded and customised for firefighting requirements. They are normally fitted with sirens and emergency vehicle lighting, as well as communication equipment such as two-way radios and mobile computer technology.

The terms fire engine and fire truck are often used interchangeably to a broad range of vehicles involved in firefighting; however, in some fire departments they refer to separate and specific types of vehicle.

Design and construction

The design and construction of fire engines focuses greatly on the use of both active and passive warnings. Passive visual warnings involve the use of high contrast patterns to increase the noticeability of the vehicle. These types of warnings are often seen on older vehicles and those in developing countries.[1] More modern designs make use of retroreflectors to reflect light from other vehicles. Vehicles will also often have these reflectors arranged in a chevron pattern along with the words fire or rescue.[1] European countries commonly use a pattern known as battenburg markings.road vehicle (usually a truck) that functions as a firefighting apparatus. The primary purposes of a fire engine include transporting firefighters and water to an incident as well as carrying equipment for firefighting operations. Some fire engines have specialized functions, such as wildfire suppression and aircraft rescue and firefighting, and may also carry equipment for technical rescue.

Many fire engines are based on commercial vehicle chassis that are further upgraded and customised for firefighting requirements. They are normally fitted with sirens and emergency vehicle lighting, as well as communication equipment such as two-way radios and mobile computer technology.

The terms fire engine and fire truck are often used interchangeably to a broad range of vehicles involved in firefighting; however, in some fire departments they refer to separate and specific types of vehicle.

  • Australia operated by Fire and Rescue NSW. Note the open compartments on the side of the appliance, containing firefighting equipment.

  • The standard fire engine transports firefighters to the scene, provides a limited supply of water with which to fight the fire, and carries equipment needed by the firefighters for most firefighting scenarios. The tools carried on the fire engine will vary greatly based on many factors including the size of the department and the usual situations the firefighters handle. For example, departments located near large bodies of water or rivers are likely to have some sort of water rescue equipment. Standard tools found on nearly all fire engines include ladders, hydraulic rescue tools (often referred to as the jaws of life), water rescue equipment. Standard tools found on nearly all fire engines include ladders, hydraulic rescue tools (often referred to as the jaws of life), floodlights, fire hose, fire extinguishers, self-contained breathing apparatus, and thermal imaging cameras.[5]

    The exact layout of what is carried on an engi

    The exact layout of what is carried on an engine is decided by the needs of the department. For example, fire departments located in metropolitan areas will carry equipment to mitigate hazardous materials and effect technical rescues, while departments that operate in the wildland-urban interface will need the gear to deal with brush fires.

    Some fire engines have a fixed deluge gun, also known as a master stream, which directs a heavy stream of water to wherever the operator points it. An additional feature of engines are their preconnected hose lines, commonly referred to as preconnects.[6] The preconnects are attached to the engine's onboard water supply and allow firefighters to quickly mount an aggressive attack on the fire as soon as they arrive on scene.[6] When the onboard water supply runs out, the engine is connected to more permanent sources such as fire hydrants or water tenders and can also use natural sources such as rivers or reservoirs by drafting water.

    Several aerial apparatuses in use at a fire in Los Angeles

  • An aerial ladder platform truck in London

  • An aerial apparatus is a fire truck mounted with an extendable boom that enables firefighters to reach high locations. They can provide a high vantage point for spraying water and creating ventilation, an access route for f

    An aerial ladder platform truck in London

    An aerial apparatus is a fire truck mounted with an extendable boom that enables firefighters to reach high locations. They can provide a high vantage point for spraying water and creating ventilation, an access route for firefighters and an escape route for firefighters and people they have rescued. In North America, aerial apparatuses are used for fire suppression, whereas in Europe, they are used more for rescue.[7][8]

    Turntable ladder

    An early device used to squirt water onto a fire was known as a squirt or fire syringe. Hand squirts and hand pumps are noted before Ctesibius of Alexandria invented the first fire pump around the 2nd century B.C.,[21] and an example of a force-pump possibly used for a fire-engine is mentioned by Heron of Alexandria. A book of 1655 inventions[citation needed] mentions a steam engine (called a fire engine) pump used to "raise a column of water 40 feet (12 m)", but there was no mention of whether it was portable.

    Colonial laws in America required each house to have a bucket of water on the front stoop in preparation for fires at night. These buckets were intended for use by the initial bucket brigade that would supply the water at fires. Philadelphia obtained a hand-pumped fire engine in 1719, years after Boston's 1654 model appeared there, made by Joseph Jenckes Sr., but before New York's two engines arrived from London.

    By 1730, Richard Newsham, in London, had made successful fire engines; he invented the first ones used in New York City (in 1731) (this was six years before formation of the NYC volunteer fire department). The amount of manpower and skill necessary for firefighting prompted Benjamin Franklin to found an organized fire company in 1737. Thomas Lote built the first fire engine made in America in 1743. These earliest engines are called hand tubs because they are manually (hand) powered and the water was supplied by a bucket brigade dumping it into a tub (cistern) where the pump had a permanent intake pipe. An important advancement around 1822 was the invention of an engine which could draft water from a water source. This rendered the bucket brigade obsolete. In 1822, a Philadelphia-based manufacturing company called Sellers and Pennock made a model called "The Hydraulion". It is said to be the first suction engine.[22] Some models had the hard, suction hose fixed to the intake and curled up over the apparatus known as a squirrel tail engine.

    bucket brigade that would supply the water at fires. Philadelphia obtained a hand-pumped fire engine in 1719, years after Boston's 1654 model appeared there, made by Joseph Jenckes Sr., but before New York's two engines arrived from London.

    By 1730, Richard Newsham, in London, had made successful fire engines; he invented the first ones used in New York City (in 1731) (this was six years before formation of the NYC volunteer fire department). The amount of manpower and skill necessary for firefighting prompted Benjamin Franklin to found an organized fire company in 1737. Thomas Lote built the first fire engine made in America in 1743. These earliest engines are called hand tubs because they are manually (hand) powered and the water was supplied by a bucket brigade dumping it into a tub (cistern) where the pump had a permanent intake pipe. An important advancement around 1822 was the invention of an engine which could draft water from a water source. This rendered the bucket brigade obsolete. In 1822, a Philadelphia-based manufacturing company called Sellers and Pennock made a model called "The Hydraulion". It is said to be the first suction engine.[22] Some models had the hard, suction hose fixed to the intake and curled up over the apparatus known as a squirrel tail engine.

    The earliest engines were small and were either carried by four men, or mounted on skids and dragged to a fire. As the engines grew larger they became horse-drawn and later self-propelled by steam engines.[23] John Ericsson is credited with building the first American steam-powered fire engine.[citation needed] John Braithwaite built the first steam fire-engine in Britain.[citation needed]

    Until the mid-19th century, most fire engines were maneuvered by men, but the introduction of horse-drawn fire engines considerably improved the response time to incidents. The first self-propelled steam pumper fire engine was built in New York in 1841. Unfortunately for the manufacturers, some firefighters sabotaged the device and its use of the first engine was discontinued. However, the need and the utility of power equipment ensured the success of the steam pumper well into the twentieth century. Many cities and towns around the world bought the steam fire engines.

    Motorised fire engines date back to January 1897, when the Prefect of Police in Paris applied for funds to purchase "a machine worked by petroleum for the traction of a fire-engine, ladders, and so forth and for the conveyance of the necessary staff of pompiers".[24] With great prescience the report states "If the experiment prove successful, as is anticipated, horses will eventually be entirely replaced by automobiles". This was, indeed, the case and motorised fire engines became commonplace by the early 20th century. By 1905, the idea of combining gas engine motor trucks into fire engines was attracting great attention; according to a Popular Mechanics article in that year,[25] such trucks were rapidly gaining popularity in England. That same year, the Knox Automobile Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, began selling what somesteam pumper fire engine was built in New York in 1841. Unfortunately for the manufacturers, some firefighters sabotaged the device and its use of the first engine was discontinued. However, the need and the utility of power equipment ensured the success of the steam pumper well into the twentieth century. Many cities and towns around the world bought the steam fire engines.

    Motorised fire engines date back to January 1897, when the Prefect of Police in Paris applied for funds to purchase "a machine worked by petroleum for the traction of a fire-engine, ladders, and so forth and for the conveyance of the necessary staff of pompiers".[24] With great prescience the report states "If the experiment prove successful, as is anticipated, horses will eventually be entirely replaced by automobiles". This was, indeed, the case and motorised fire engines became commonplace by the early 20th century. By 1905, the idea of combining gas engine motor trucks into fire engines was attracting great attention; according to a Popular Mechanics article in that year,[25] such trucks were rapidly gaining popularity in England. That same year, the Knox Automobile Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, began selling what some[26] have described as the world's first modern fire engine. A year later, the city of Springfield, Illinois, had filled their fire department with Knox engines. Another early motorized fire engine was developed by Peter Pirsch and Sons of Kenosha, Wisconsin. [27]

    For many years firefighters sat on the sides of the fire engines, or even stood on the rear of the vehicles, exposed to the elements. This arrangement was uncomfortable and dangerous (some firefighters were thrown to their deaths when their fire engines made sharp turns on the road), and today nearly all fire engines have fully enclosed seating areas for their crews.

    Early pumpers used cisterns as a source of water. Water was later put into wooden pipes under the streets and a "fire plug" was pulled out of the top of the pipe when a suction hose was to be inserted. Later systems incorporated pressurized fire hydrants, where the pressure was increased when a fire alarm was sounded. This was found to be harmful to the system and unreliable. Today's valved hydrant systems are kept under pressure at all times, although additional pressure may be added when needed. Pressurized hydrants eliminate much of the work in obtaining water for pumping through the engine and into the attack hoses. Many rural fire engines still rely upon cisterns or other sources for drafting water into the pumps. Steam pumper came in to use in the 1850s.

    Early aerials

    In the late 19th century, means of reaching tall structures were devised. At first, manually extendable ladders were used; as these grew in length (and weight), they were put onto two large wheels. When carried by fire engines these wheeled escape ladders had the wheels suspended behind the rear of the vehicle, making them a distinctive sight. Before long, turntable ladders—which were even longer, mechanically extendable, and installed directly onto fire trucks—made their appearances.

    After the Second World War turntable ladders were supplemented by the aerial work platform (sometimes called "cherry picker"), a platform or bucket attached onto a mechanically bending arm (o

    After the Second World War turntable ladders were supplemented by the aerial work platform (sometimes called "cherry picker"), a platform or bucket attached onto a mechanically bending arm (or "snorkel") installed onto a fire truck. While these could not reach the height of similar turntable ladders, the platforms could extend into previously unreachable "dead corners" of a burning building.