Fire Engine

The workhorse of the fire department

The most common fire department vehicle you’ll see is a fire engine. Engines are different from trucks (carrying long ladders), ambulances (for transporting people to hospitals), and other vehicles.

A fire engine typically carries firefighters to a fire or emergency. The engine often has three key components on board: hoses, a tank that holds water, and a pump that supplies the hoses with water. This type of fire engine is called a “Triple Combination Engine” or “Triple for short.

A typical modern fire engine will carry tools for a wide range of firefighting and rescue tasks, with common equipment including ladders, self-contained breathing apparatus, ventilating equipment, first aid kits, and hydraulic rescue tools.

A fire truck is typically the long aerial ladder trucks you see on the way to a large fire or certain types of medical emergencies. For certain medical emergencies, more firefighters are needed to assist, which is why you sometimes see trucks or engines in addition to an ambulance at the scene of a medical incident.

The fire engine you see in the photograph is the most common type found in towns and cities. This is called a Type 1 fire engine. It is designed to fight fires in buildings, like a home or business.

There are other types of fire engines as well, often centered around wildfire operations. To learn more about them, visit the links to the right.

Aerial Ladder Truck

The west coast calls them “Truck Companies.” The east coast calls them “Ladder Trucks.” In both cases, an aerial ladder truck is a critical component when fighting structural fires. A tiller truck, also known as a tractor-drawn aerial, tiller ladder, or hook-and-ladder truck, is a specialized turntable ladder mounted on a semi-trailer truck. Unlike a...
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ALS Rescue Ambulance

ALS (Advanced Life Support) Rescue Ambulance – these vehicles are staffed by paramedics or firefighter/medics. A paramedic is similar to an EMT, but has additional training to allow them to dispense a wide array of medications that will help stabilize a patient while en route to a hospital. In many cases, a BLS ambulance will...
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An AARF or Airport Crash Rig – this is one of the very specialized apparatus stationed at airports in California. Originally called “Crash Rigs,” these fire engines are specifically designed to quickly suppress fire in the event of an aircraft accident. Traditionally, AARF rigs have included both Crash Fire Rescue (CFR) and Rapid Intervention Vehicles...
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Battalion Sedan

  Command vehicles are sometimes referred to as “Battalion Sedans” when the commander holds the rank of “Battalion Chief.” The example shown is a Battalion Sedan (even though this is a truck chassis with a box mounted on the rear) from the Los Angeles Fire Department. Each Battalion Chief in the LAFD is responsible for...
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BLS 800 Rescue Ambulance

Basic Life Support (BLS) Ambulance – these vehicles are typically referred to as Medic units, although some agencies, such as the Los Angeles Fire Department call them Rescue Ambulances, or RAs. A BLS ambulance is typically staffed by two EMTs or Firefighter/EMTs. They’re useful when transporting patients in stable condition, or with basic traumatic injuries...
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Brush Apparatus

  Brush or wildland fire engines are typically smaller than Type 1 or structural fire engines and are primarily used for vegetation fires or wildland fires. They also respond to emergencies in rural areas where traditional engines cannot respond. Most wildland engines feature four-wheel drive capability and can thus climb hills and make it through...
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Crew 3 Rig

Sometimes called hand crews, there are multiple types of crews, including Type I Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC), Type 1, Type 2-Initial Attack (IA), Type 2, and Type 3. Type 2 crews are often made up of seasonal firefighters whereas a Type I IHC crew are “Hotshots” and have at least 7 full time, career firefighters...
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Firefighting Aircraft

  Used primarily to fight wildfire, aircraft generally refers to anything that flies, including helicopters. If the aircraft has fixed wings, then the term applies specifically. Various aircraft have been used over the years for firefighting. Though World War II and Korean War-era bombers were for a long time the mainstay of the aerial firefighting...
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Foam Tender

Foam Tender – this is one of the more unusual apparatus operated by the Los Angeles Fire Department. Using a specialized foam (see below) combined with water, this rig is extremely useful when suppressing fires that are resistant to traditional water-based operations. Class A foams were developed in mid 1980s and were used when suppressing...
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Gator ATV & Paramedic Team: The “Gator” Team consists of two Paramedics operating a six-wheeled All Terrain Vehicle. The “Gator” is outfitted with Advanced Life Support tools, a stretcher, and other necessary equipment. The size and configuration of the Bicycle Paramedic Teams and the “Gator” teams provided paramedics the opportunity to navigate crowds, circumvent traffic,...
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HAZ MAT Apparatus

HazMat (Hazardous Materials) – in the event of a chemical or dangerous toxin emergencies, or a bomb threat, a specialized vehicle, typically called a Haz Mat – or hazardous materials apparatus will be put into use. Today, even smaller departments operate haz mat rigs – although some cities utilize their police departments for this function....
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Heavy Rescue

The Heavy Rescue – the LAFD operates this specialized tow-truck as a “Heavy Rescue” out of Fire Station 56 in the LA community of Silverlake. This mammoth apparatus is useful in a wide variety of situations, including but not limited to righting overturned big rigs, pulling crushed vehicles apart, and lifting heavy objects. One of...
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Helicopters are a critical component when effecting a rescue, or when fighting a wildfire. The helicopter shown is a Bell 412, one of the more common in larger geographic areas where wildfire and rescues are both priorities. The Bell 412 has a storied past, and is used by a number of large fire departments. It...
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Helicopter Tender

Air Operations Helicopter Tender: This apparatus responds to locations where helicopters will be used. They carry from 580 to 2000 gallons of jet fuel. Equipment may include: portable pumps and reservoirs (1,000 gallon capacity), stokes litter baskets, cargo slings and hooks, assorted fittings, a portable generator to assist in starting the aircraft, two sets of...
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Quint Fire Truck

A quintuple combination pumper or “quint” is a fire apparatus that serves the dual purpose of an engine and a ladder truck. The name quint is derived from the Latin prefix quinque-, meaning five, and refers to the five functions that a quint provides: pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device, and ground ladders. A...
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Rehab Tender

Rehabilitation Air Tender: during major emergencies, firefighters will need to replace their air bottles (used to breath), not to mention resting between heavy periods of exposure to fire, heat and smoke. These apparatus, affectionately called “RATS,” are used at dangerous and significant incidents. In addition to carrying air bottles, this apparatus is designed to help...
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Small Fire Boat

Fireboats are an essential component of any fire agency that operates near any body of water. The Los Angeles Fire Department operates five fire boats. LAFD Fireboat #2 – the Warner L. Lawrence. Named for one of the department’s most innovative officers, Fireboat #2 is one of the largest and most technologically advanced fireboats in...
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Tractor Companies

Tractor/Dozer Company: A tractor trailer configuration designed for emergency or non-emergency transportation of department dozers, loaders and any oversized/overweight load. The most common use of this combination is at wildfires or to demolish buildings that are no longer safe due to fire, explosion, earthquake or other cause of instability to the structure.

Type 1 Fire Engine

  A Type 1 (or Class A) fire engine is what you’ll most likely see if you live in a Metro community. Big cities rely on Type 1 fire apparatus based on flexibility, staffing, and the ability to operate at homes, apartments, businesses, and high rise buildings. Technically, a Type 1 fire engine is designed...
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Type 3 Fire Engine

  A Type 3 fire engine is what you’ll see if you live in a mountainous or rural community. These (typically) four-wheel drive apparatus are designed for rapid deployment, pick up, and relocation during wildfires. Technically, a Type 3 fire engine includes a pump operating at 120 gpm, a large 500 gal/tank, 1000 ft. 1...
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Urban Search and Rescue

  US&R – this rig is commonly called a U-SAR which is short for Urban Search and Rescue. Think of it as a giant toolbox for rescue purposes. These apparatus are critical assets during an earthquake, a train or aircraft accident, or in any situation where people may be trapped. Common uses are for rescue...
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Water Tender

  In places where a water supply may be questionable, fire departments will utilize a water tender. This is an example of a rural department’s water tender working a small grass fire. Some tenders hold as much as 3,000 gallons of water and are quite similar to the tenders you may see at a construction...
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Read More from the California Fire Prevention Organization

Our American Red Cross Partners

The California Fire Prevention Organization (California Fire Prevention Organization) enjoys a rewarding relationship with the American Red Cross. For more than a year, we’ve been partnered with the Red Cross Los Angeles Region, supporting their “sound the alarm” home fire safety initiative. There are some important differences between our organizations. It’s that diversity that makes our...
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Installing Free Smoke Alarms Year Round

The education and public safety teams at California Fire Prevention Organization conduct home inspections and install free smoke alarms in an ongoing basis year round. From a metrics point of view, the program is measured by the number of alarms installed and people impacted. But, there is so much more to the story.  These visits...
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Are Wildfire Residents Ready for the Rain?

Weather forecasts for the coming week predict significant rainfall across California. It should put to bed the last embers from the wildfires that roared across the State during the past 100 days. More than a half inch of rain an hour could launch the next disaster for those affected by the recent fires: flooding and...
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Smoke Alarm Holiday Gifts for CA Fire Agencies

California Fire Prevention Organization, a unit of the California Fire Prevention Organization helped to create a safer holiday season with distribution of fire prevention kits to a number of California fire departments. “California has been hit with a remarkable number of wildfires, an increase in structure fires and in fatalities this year,” noted California Fire...
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New PSA Series for Riverside County Fire Chiefs

The California Fire Prevention Organization video team has developed a series of public service announcements for the Riverside County Fire Chiefs. The short video clips cover kitchen fires and anti-drowning messaging. Drowning has become a year-round tragic reality for many communities. And, as most house fires start in the kitchen, getting the word out about...
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More Fatalities as NorCal Fires Impact Thousands

Fire crews on Wednesday made progress, but in the midst of that good news, another fatality was discovered. The death toll related to the ongoing NorCa fires has now reached 42. Fire officials from CalFire confirmed a 23rd death in Sonoma County. That’s 22 from the Tubbs fire and one from the Nuns fire. In addition,...
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Napa, Calistoga, Santa Rosa Fire Info

Share this post with your friends and neighbors on Facebook and Twitter. There are a number of fires burning in Northern California at the moment. These are dangerous fires, and anyone living anywhere near these incidents should take immediate action to protect their families and pets. Firefighters will take care of property to the extent...
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Fireworks Can Burn You!

Every year, important messages about fireworks are ignored by thousands of people, and often, the result is an unhappy ending. Burns and the scars they leave can last a lifetime. Children are most often those who are injured or killed. Fireworks are fun to watch and represent our country’s independence. MySafe:CA believes that on  Independence Day...
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Are You Prepared This September?

September is National Preparedness Month. You know that family escape plan you keep meaning to draw up and finalize? You know the one, where you make sure you’ve mapped out two ways out of your bedroom and two ways out of you home. And you’ve chosen a safe meeting place where every one in your...
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