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There are different fire truck models, so not all carry exactly the same equipment. However, most modern fire trucks are multi-purpose vehicles making use of a variety of types firefighting equipment. Most will also carry certain equipment for other types of emergencies as well.
Fire trucks are generally heavy duty suspension trucks with brakes, tires, an alternator, a transmission, and a cooling system, like regular tucks. Fire trucks have different methods of directing water to quench fires. Most use a hose to pump water onto a fire through hoses, though some use water cannons that can be pointed towards the fire from a greater distance. Some fire trucks have an on-board reservoir of water, while others must use water from an external source, such as a fire hydrant or a lake. A water tender, a fire appliance used to transport large amounts of water to the site of a fire, is sometimes part of a fire truck.
Fire trucks may also have devices to reach fires high above the ground. Two of the most popular devices of this type are the turntable ladder, and the hydraulic platform. Both are mounted on the top of the truck. Turntable ladders are telescopic, and may be operated by hydraulic or pneumatic power.
The turntable ladder can be rotated to reach different areas, while the hydraulic platform simply lifts high above the fire truck. Some hydraulic platforms are articulated, allowing them to extend over a high surface like a roof. Turntable ladders sometimes include a small platform or basket at the top.
Other equipment a fire truck often has on hand includes ropes, axes and other cutting tools, floodlights, ventilating equipment, and fire extinguishers. A tool called a pike pole or ceiling hook is used to search for fires beneath the sheetrock in some walls and ceilings, to pull items from burning areas, and to break windows to provide ventilation. A halligan bar is a similar implement used to break into burning structures when necessary.
In addition to fire-fighting devices, a fire truck generally has a variety of rescue and first aid equipment. Turntable ladders and hydraulic platforms can be used to rescue people from high places as well as to fight fires. Breathing apparatus and other resuscitation items can help treat injured people on site, before the arrival of an ambulance. Fire trucks also usually have a two-way radio, allowing communication with other rescue personnel, as well as visual and audible warning systems including a siren and flashing lights.
I had to do some research on fire fighting for a novel I was writing in which the main character was a firefighter. The amount of equipment they have to use is amazing. Not only do they carry huge amounts on their own bodies, they also have to learn how to use all the things they have on the truck.
Apparently there are only a couple of companies in the whole United States that even make fire truck equipment now. They have to be very careful, of course, because reliability is so important.
And the trucks are so expensive that they can only really afford to replace them every few decades. Which is why you don't often hear about old fire trucks for sale.
@John57 - One of my favorite memories as a child was visiting the local firestation for a demonstration of all the equipment. For a few years I really wanted to be a firewoman!
They showed us how heavy the hoses were and they set a fire in their practice building and then showed us the procedure for climbing up and putting it out again.
They let us take turns sitting in the truck and letting the sirens go. It was really awesome.
Even though they also did a lot of fire safety stuff as well, and also helped us understand and respect how difficult and dangerous the job was, I think most of the kids in my class were determined to be firefighters after that!
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