Fire engine

emergency vehicle intended to put out fires

A fire engine is a vehicle that is used to help put out fires. It is also called a fire truck or fire apparatus. Fire engines are also used for other emergency calls. These can include hazardous materials spills, technical rescue incidents and emergency medical service incidents. What types of calls it is used depends on the area and local setup.

A fire engine from London

A fire engine takes firefighters from a fire station to a fire or other incident. Fire engines use flashing lights, loud sirens and horns to warn people that they are coming down the road and to get out of the way. These devices have been used for years to warn people when they are coming down the road. Fire engines also use communication equipment to contact their dispatcher or other emergency services vehicles.

A fire engine has many tools and equipment for fighting fires. Almost all engines have hoses, a pump, a water tank and breathing equipment. Some engines also have special tools and equipment. These might include electrical generators, specialized rescue tools such as the jaws of life, equipment for hazardous materials spills and first aid kits or medical equipment.



In the middle ages, the only way to fight a fire was with buckets of water. In the 16th century, hand-powered pumps were invented. In the 19th century, the design of these pumps was improved. With them, horses could be used to take them to the location of a fire. Later, steam power was used to both run the pumps and move them to the fires. The first modern fire engine was invented in 1905 by Knox Automobile in Springfield, Massachusetts.

There are several types of specialized fire service vehicles. They include:

  • Ladder truck: a ladder truck is found in large municipal fire departments. There are several types of ladder truck designations. They include tower ladders, aerial ladders, and hook and ladder. The number of people on a ladder company varies. Ladder trucks use ladders that are mounted in the rear or middle of the truck.
  • Water tender: A water tender is a vehicle which carries large amounts of water.
  • Heavy rescue trucks: heavy rescue trucks use special rescue tools and equipment that a normal fire engine does not have. These vehicles are used for automobile accidents and building collapses. The equipment often found on these vehilcle include the Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue systems, special rescue saws, air bags, electric and battery-powered tools and generators.
  • Hazardous materials trucks: hazardous materials trucks use special tools and equipment to deal with many kinds of hazardous materials accidents. These include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives. Other things they respond to are CBRNE incidents, train accidents and other incidents. These vehicles have special protective gear and use other types of fire extinguishing equipment based on the incident such as foam.
  • Airport crash tender: an airport crash tender uses a vehicle that has special tools and equipment that deal with emergencies at large airports.
  • Rescue ambulances or medic units: ambulances use vehicles for emergency medical services incidents. They provide services of either a paramedic or an emergency medical technician.