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August 21, 2017

Fire Fighting & Fire Engine | History, Parts & Working

Fire Engine Uncovered/ How Fire Fighter Work

Fire engines truly are incredible machines. They have evolved to tame one of nature’s elemental forces – the hot, burning one – achieving this by mastering another – the cool, liquid one. Their mastery of water, along with the crew that operate them, has saved countless properties, areas of wilderness and human lives over the centuries.

These vehicles come in all shapes and sizes tailored for different kinds of emergencies, both in urban and rural environments. A typical fire engine needs to perform three primary duties: get officers to the scene as fast as possible, carry all the essential equipment and serve as a portable water pump and sometimes reservoir.

The greatest challenge to response time is its other two main roles; all that water and equipment on board are not conducive to speed. Although fire trucks can weigh 15 tons or more, they have compensated for this by installing turbocharged engines and by keeping a compact form to negotiate traffic and narrow roads.

No space is wasted, with compartments lining the walls packed with all the tools a fire fi ghter might possibly need. One of the most important pieces of equipment, however, is too big to fi t in any compartment. Telescopic ladders and hydraulic platforms sit on the roof and are vital for accessing the upper storeys of burning buildings as well as providing an elevated position to survey and extinguish fires.

But a fire engine’s most fundamental weapon is water. While some fi re trucks have the capacity to hold thousands of litres in a central tank, others tap into nearby sources like a hydrant or a lake. The water is fed into a centrifugal pump at the heart of the vehicle, where a fast-spinning impeller forces it back out at great pressure.

Numerous color-coded hoses draw from this single pump, controlled by a panel of switches and levers. Depending on the pump’s size and the number of lines, a fi re can be deluged with as much as 10,000 litres (2,640 gallons) per minute, though typically the flow is around half this rate. These days special foam is often mixed with the water prior to leaving the fi re engine because the way it clings to burning surfaces drastically cuts the amount of time it takes to put out a blaze.

Fire Fighting Truck pic

Historical Background of Fire Fighting

Fire fighting has a longer history than you might think – here are some of the biggest milestones in the war against conflagrations. In the following lines you can read about the development in fire fighting with passage of time.

100 BCE

Marcus Crassus forms the first fire brigade in Rome. Only the wealthy can afford his rates.

27 BCE

Emperor Augustus puts together the Vigiles for fighting crime and fires, but their techniques enjoy only limited success.

1500s CE

Hand pumps are used to put out small fires, but only have a short range so are n’t very effective against bigger blazes.


After the Great Fire of London, insurance companies begin offering personal protection schemes.


Jan van der Heyden from the Netherlands invents the first fire hose made out of leather and brass.


John Lofting patents the ‘Sucking Worm Engine’ to much acclaim, greatly increasing the range of water from the hose.


Taking inspiration from Lofting’s design, the Little Newsham engine can pump around 605l (160ga) of water per minute up to 50m (165ft).


In a groundbreaking departure from tradition, France decides a fire service should be free to all.


James Braidwood establishes the world’s first organized municipal fire brigade in Edinburgh, later becoming the first director of the London Fire Engine Establishment.


Cincinnati in Ohio is the first city in the USA to set up its own professional fi re department.


The internal combustion engine is used to move the vehicle and power  the water pump more efficiently than before.

Fire Fighter at Work/ Important Parts and their function in Fire Truck

Hydraulic platform

When fire fighters need to pass over a structure like a roof, an articulating boom is used. There are two sets of controls for maneuvering the arm (one set on the vehicle and one on the platform).

Deck gun

Aerial platforms are often fitted with a permanent waterway in the lifting arm, which can handle higher pressure water than a typical hose and be fired with mounted water cannon.


All essential tools are readily accessible in organized compartments that run down the sides of the truck. These include fans, poles, chemical extinguishers and medical gear


Four hydraulic braces provide added stability when using telescopic ladders or aerial platforms.

Mains water

Fire engines with a low supply or no water tank can tap into a local water source with a suction hose that connects to the impeller pump.


A variety of hoses, or lines, are carried on board for different situations. They are made of strong but light fabrics like polyester and nylon with rubber linings to limit corrosion.

Medical attention

Although carrying less medical equipment than an ambulance, many officers are trained to perform emergency treatment with kit like defibrillators, as they are often the first on the scene.


This is raised and lowered with a hydraulic piston rod. Telescopic sections are also powered with hydraulics. The biggest examples can reach in excess of 30m (100ft) high.

Pump panel

The driver is often in charge of the pump panel, which uses switches and levers to open and close valves to the hoses and to set the required water pressure.

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