Fire engine

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Fire fighting vehicle
Fire truck on a NATO base

A fire engine is a motor vehicle that the fire service uses as part of its operational activities. Trailers used for fire fighting purposes also fall into this category. In order to be able to make use of special rights in road traffic, the fire fighting vehicles are specially marked and equipped with special signals. In continental Europe, the vehicles are usually painted red (for example RAL 3000) or bright red (for example RAL 3024, RAL 3026). In Great Britain and regions of Switzerland (mainly in the canton of Zurich), fire engines are often lemon yellow, which is justified by the better visibility within the UV spectrum : red fire engines are gray for color-blind people, while the yellow-green tone is particularly noticeable to the human eye . Depending on the country, they have a secondary horn and one or more blue (yellow in Spain, red in the USA) rotating beacons .

Fire engines are usually housed in fire stations .


Fire truck of the Chico Fire Department, USA

A fire engine must be specially designed and equipped for reception

  • a crew,
  • a fire brigade load,
  • of extinguishing and / or rescue or other operational resources.

The selection of a fire engine is based on different aspects:

Fire fighting vehicles have always played a special role as emergency vehicles within commercial vehicles . The citizens associate high expectations with them. The demands placed on construction and equipment are correspondingly high.

Variants and standardization

Vehicles are mainly classified according to their possible uses. They are usually divided into vehicles that are used for fire fighting or technical assistance. Since, on the one hand, the vehicles were getting bigger and on the other hand, operation required fewer staff, vehicles were also created that can be used for both main tasks. Due to increasing vehicle costs, solutions with swap bodies are used again and again , in which only one special container has to be kept for each application.

In many countries, certain types of fire fighting vehicles are specified through standardization . In the EU, basic specifications are made in the basic standard EN 1846 for all countries. National standards are based on these basic specifications. Among other things, EN 1846 divides vehicles into three mass classes (light (L): 3 t <GM ≤ 7.5 t; medium (M): 7.5 t <GM ≤ 16 t; super (S): GM> 16 t , with standardization status October 2013) and three usability categories: 1: roadworthy; 2: off-road; 3: all-terrain.

All-terrain vehicles of the mass classes M and S must have a slope angle of 35 ° (front and rear) and a ramp angle of 30 °. For light vehicles, the norm is satisfied with 30 ° or 25 °. For off-road vehicles, a 23 ° slope angle and 18 ° ramp angle are sufficient (standardization 10/2013).

EN 1846 also contains basic safety requirements (e.g. for the accessibility of crew and equipment rooms), which are included in all national standards for specific vehicles.

Fire trucks

Tank fire engine TLF 16, type IFA-W50

Tank fire engines transport large amounts of extinguishing agent (mainly water, partly foam compound or powder), are equipped with a built-in pump and, because of the larger extinguishing agent tank, usually have fewer equipment and a smaller crew: either six firefighters ("relay crew") or three firefighters ("troop crew"). Many fire trucks have four-wheel drive because their areas of application often include forests, meadows or other impassable places without a water supply.

Fire trucks

Fire fighting vehicle LF 16-TS
Side view of a fire fighting vehicle

Fire-fighting vehicles are primarily used to extinguish fires, rescue people and provide technical assistance of small to medium scale. Fire trucks are subdivided into the categories of fire fighting vehicles , portable fire pumps , small fire engines and special fire engines as well as other fire engines .

Fire fighting vehicles
Usually made by firefighters who need to build the entire fire fighting including water supply, fire brigade groups of nine people. This corresponds to the vehicles that can also accommodate this team, i. H. for a fire fighting group for all-round vehicles. The fire fighting group vehicles are equipped either with a permanently installed vehicle pump or with a transportable, removable pump, ladders, extensive equipment for fire fighting and technical assistance. Often only minimal equipment is available for technical assistance. Due to different weight restrictions in the different countries - also depending on the previously non-uniform driving license classes - the vehicles developed in different sizes.
Portable fire pumps and small fire engines
have a fire fighting centrifugal pump ( portable pump ) for fire fighting, which can also be used away from the vehicle. They are mostly small vehicles for fire fighting and simple technical assistance. They are usually manned by a six-person squadron, but carry equipment for a group.
Special fire engines and other fire engines
are often not standardized. In the case of plant fire brigades or fire brigades in large cities, however, there are certainly vehicles for special operations that require special extinguishing agents such as large quantities of powder or foam. So there are z. B. Powder fire trucks or dry tank fire engines that can transport larger quantities of extinguishing powder to the site, and also special foam fire engines that only carry foam compound or a ready-to-use foam-water mixture. There are also fire fighting vehicles that do not fit into the standard scheme due to their composition of extinguishing agents or a different load.

Aerial rescue vehicles

Aerial rescue vehicle
historical turntable ladder from 1952, Rhineland-Palatinate Fire Brigade Museum Hermeskeil

The fire brigade had to keep pace with the ever-taller buildings. So the simple extension ladders were soon no longer enough, and large turntable ladders , but also telescopic or telescopic articulated masts were developed. They are used to rescue people, to fight fires from the outside and to illuminate emergency areas. The European standard DIN EN 1846-1 only differentiates between turntable ladders and aerial work platforms, according to which all types of articulated and telescopic masts can be described as aerial work platforms.

Vehicles for technical assistance

Equipment trolley for dangerous goods
Equipment trolley logistics for the
Bretten fire brigade
Vehicles for technical assistance
Rescue vehicles and some equipment vehicles are equipped for technical assistance. They are usually only manned by three people in order to be able to transport as many devices and heavy units as possible. All rescue vehicles have a built-in cable winch, a power generator and sometimes a loading crane . There are various special vehicles for technical assistance, including a.
Crane vehicles
Since the loads to be moved are getting bigger and bigger in technical operations, crane vehicles (from simple loading cranes to heavy truck cranes that can also lift railway wagons) are used by the fire brigade. Because of the high cost, they are only stationed at fire departments that cover a large area. However, they are often requested from commercial providers who have an emergency on-call service.
Special vehicles for hazardous goods operations
are specially equipped for operations with dangerous goods or radioactive substances . This also includes special measuring vehicles.
Emergency vehicles
In communities where the ambulance service is perceived by the fire brigade, are rescue , emergency medical and ambulance also fire engines.
Vehicles for disaster and environmental protection
are vehicles such as the hose trolley SW 2000-Tr , the fire fighting vehicle LF 16-TS , the ABC reconnaissance vehicle , the equipment trolley measuring technology , vehicles for the decontamination of people ( decontamination trucks people ) and devices ( decontamination trucks devices ) as well as containers / environmental protection.
other vehicles
These include command vehicles, armored personnel carriers vehicles , hose reels for water supply in remote operation sites (especially in rural areas), change of body vehicles , trucks, cars , motorcycles and various probe range produced vehicles such as extinguishing tank .
A fire fighting tank (2010), based on the Marder AFV

All-round vehicles

Advances in the development of vehicle technology (lighter materials such as aluminum , more stable constructions, more powerful engines) mean that functions that previously had to be performed by different vehicles can be combined in one vehicle. First of all, fire fighting vehicles were equipped with a water tank so that no time was lost in setting up an extinguishing water supply in the event of a fire. Today most types of fire fighting vehicles have water on board. While the water tanks of old tank fire engines were still recognizable from the outside, today they are housed inside the equipment rooms, so that the layman can hardly distinguish between fire fighting vehicles and tank fire engines.

In a next step, devices for technical assistance (especially the hydraulic rescue kit and cable winches attached to the vehicle frame ) were included in the loading of fire fighting vehicles . These vehicles are called, for example , fire fighting vehicle in Austria , emergency fire extinguishing vehicle (HLF) or fire fighting vehicle (LHF) in Germany . Thus, all-round fire engines with a high tactical value were created. More details can be found in the country-specific articles.

In the case of many large fire departments, the long-term vehicle procurement concept envisages only using these modern fire fighting group vehicles and turntable ladders for initial use. Equipment or material for larger operations is kept in stock in roll-off containers or on a swap body and, if necessary, is brought to the place of use by swap bodies .

In the past few decades attempts have been made several times to combine the functions “fire truck” and “turntable ladder” in one vehicle. However, none of these concepts could prevail. Either the combination vehicle was too big and heavy, or the turntable ladder was too short. In addition, the turntable ladder and fire truck have to be in different positions at many deployment locations. For example, the turntable ladder is needed on the window front to rescue people, while the fire engine is often set up near the house entrance. A combination vehicle would therefore often not be optimally used.

Nevertheless, there was a tendency to purchase such combination vehicles. Smaller fire brigades in particular, which due to changed legal regulations now have to keep a turntable ladder in place, are showing interest in such extinguishing ladder combinations. In the meantime, articulated mast / rescue vehicle combination vehicles are also offered by various manufacturers.

Fire boats

Fireboat on the Rhine in Basel ( Switzerland )

Tactical fire brigade loading is common on these work ships, which is usually aimed at fighting a fire from the waterside. As a rule, among other things, powerful centrifugal fire pumps and often special nozzles (fire monitors) are available.

Because of the pumps, fire boats are not infrequently used to create a powerful water supply for units in the country that is independent of the public drinking water network in the event of major land fires . In the immediate vicinity of water bodies, however, they are mostly used for direct fire fighting .

Fire boats can also be used to fight ship fires on the open sea. These fireboats are usually much larger than fireboats on inland waterways so that they can also be used in difficult weather conditions (heavy seas, strong winds, etc.).

Fire trucks in different countries

Fire truck in Iran

There are different country-specific vehicle concepts that have developed due to the different organizational and task spectrum of the fire brigades and the topographical conditions:

See also

Portal: Fire Brigade  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of fire brigade

 Wikipedia: WikiProjekt Emergency Organizations / Fire Brigade - Wikipedia-internal specialist editorial team on the subject of Emergency Organizations / Fire Brigade


Web links

Commons : Fire truck  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: fire engine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: fire engine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Fire truck 16/25 of the Beselich-Obertiefenbach volunteer fire brigade