Fire trucks are big vehicles but how big exactly? We know that many people find themselves pondering over this question, but the answer is, surprisingly, rather more complicated than you might expect and this is because “fire truck” and “fire engine” are very big categories of vehicles, indeed. Let’s take a look at why.
It depends on the fire truck, but the average fire truck will be about 10 feet wide, 40 feet long, and 12 feet tall. This doesn’t include extended aerial ladders or other equipment. An average fire engine is closer to 35 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 9 feet tall.
There a quite a few types of fire trucks and we will talk more about the differences in this article. Here’s what you need to know about fire trucks.
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How Wide/Long/Tall Is A Fire Truck/Engine?
We will discuss the different types of fire engines and trucks below, but here are some average sizes:
That’s a substantial footprint and in order for firefighters to work with it – you really need an additional 8 feet of space between the truck and where they are working.
Fire trucks are not short vehicles either and you may find that, before any ladder’s are extended, they run to 12 feet tall or thereabouts.
A fire engine is usually a little shorter at around 35 feet long and 9 feet wide. Also is a tad shorter, about 9 feet tall. Though remember, it can really vary based on the type of engine.
Also read: How Close Can You Park To A Fire Hydrant?
The Different Types Of Fire Trucks/Engines
First of all, most people refer to fire trucks and engines as the same thing, but they are not.
Fire engines carry water in a tank, have an onboard water pump, have fire hose for fighting fire, and tools. They specialize in extinguishing fires.
Also read: What Do Firefighters Use to Put Out a Fire?
Fire trucks have aerial, extendable ladders on top and are usually considerably longer than most engines. They are set up to handle tasks at a fire such as ventilation, forcible entry, and search and rescue.
Also read: Why Do Firefighters Cut Holes In Roofs?
Another thing that rather complicates the answer to the question of how wide or long a fire truck, is that there are different types of fire trucks and engines.
The standard model of fire engine is meant to get firefighters to the scene of the fire, to provide a limited amount of water to battle the fire with, and to provide the space to carry the equipment that the firefighters are going to need.
The specific equipment that each fire truck or engine carries tends to vary depending on where the fire department is located, how many firefighters they may have, and any specifically unusual circumstances that they face on a regular basis.
This might sound peculiar but, for example, when a fire department is based near a big body of water or, perhaps, a decent-sized river they may be involved in rescuing people stuck in the water and thus, they need special equipment for these types of rescues.
Of course, there are plenty of standard layouts for tools on fire trucks and engines that can include ladders, floodlights, fire hoses, fire extinguisher, SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus), etc.
Locations will then define much of the rest of the equipment on board.
For example, urban fire departments tend to need gear that allows them to tackle highly technical rescue events as well as to cope with and offset the damage from hazardous material fires.
Whereas a more rural fire department near wildlands is going to want the right kind of equipment to tackle brush/wildland fires when they break out.
You may also find that larger trucks also have what’s known as a “deluge gun” or “deck gun” built into them – this is, rather as it sounds, a gun that sprays water wherever it’s pointed – this can allow for the fastest response to a small blaze and, perhaps, reduce the need for hoses, etc.
Types of Fire Trucks “Aerial Apparatus”
In some circumstances, firefighters will need to be able to get up high to carry out their jobs. This can mean that the fire truck comes with aerial apparatus installed to facilitate such working.
Oddly, there is something of a divide between the continents in how this kind of apparatus is used.
Here in North America, we tend to use this equipment mainly for fire suppression, ventilation, and rescues, but over in Europe, they tend to use them only really for rescue work.
The standard equipment for this is a “turntable ladder” which is a ladder that has been mounted on a pivot so that it appears to look rather like a turntable.
The ladder itself often has extendable segments to allow it to be extended over a vast range. The Magirus M68L turntable ladder can reach a height of 223 feet!
The average truck has an extended ladder reach of about 100 feet.
Here are the different types of aerial fire trucks:
The Tiller Truck
Here in the United States, you may also see a “tiller truck” which is essentially a truck with a turntable ladder mounted on a semi-trailer. The trailer and tractor can be combined at will or separated and both act as different vehicles and thus, it needs two drivers.
This is a very maneuverable setup but it is much, much longer than the majority of trucks and it can be as long as 60 feet long.
The Aerial Ladder Truck
This truck simply has a ladder (or boom) that may have a basket on the end that allows a firefighter to stand in it and work.
They are best used in rescue attempts and many platform trucks now have booms that can be bent in many different places which can allow for very strategic positioning of the basket.
Types of Fire Engines “Pumpers”
The majority of the firefighting apparatus you will see driving around are actually fire engines. People always talk about fire trucks, but usually, they are actually referring to fire engines.
There are a few different types of fire engines broken up by what they are designed to do and the equipment they carry:
Structural Fire Engines (Type 1 and 2)
These are some of the more common types of engines seen in urban areas. They are smaller than most aerial fie trucks but longer than wildland engines discussed below.
They are designed for city street driving and excel at responding to and extinguishing fires in homes, apartments, and commercial buildings. They are equipped for this purpose.
These are closer to 30- 35 feet long.
Wildland Fire Engines (Types 3 – 7)
The wildland fire engine is a very different beast to a structural fire engine and it’s designed to take on difficult terrain and, in particular, it will have a higher ground clearance and 4-wheel-drive. They may also be able to pump water whilst on the move (something most fire engines cannot do).
There is also a wildland-urban interface engine for fire departments that serve both wildlands and towns and cities which incorporates the most useful features from each type of truck.
A wildland engine is usually taller and shorter than a structural fire engine.
As the name suggests, this is a fire apparatus that is really meant to transport large amounts of water (1,000 gallons or more).
These tend to be found in rural areas where there may be no easy access to a fire hydrant and where local natural resources cannot be accessed or may already be insufficient to the needs of the firefighters.
It may have a pump on board that allows it to pump water to the hoses in other fire trucks but it cannot, usually, directly spray water on to fires.
These are about the same size as a wildland engine, but shorter than a structural fire engine.
Airport Crash Tender
These very special fire apparatus are set up to deal with aircraft accidents. They can move on rough terrain, carry a foam tank, dry chemical fire retardant extinguisher systems, and even gas-based fire suppression tanks to handle electrical fires.
Their main job, however, is to extinguish fires that involve jet fuel to prevent them from spreading easily.
The size of these types of engines can really vary.
So, as you can see, we have quite a lot of fire trucks and engines to choose from when it comes to “how wide/long is a fire truck”? We’re going to offer some answers here in relation to a standard fire truck because it would be impossible to provide answers for all the possible variations.
Will A Fire Truck Fit On My Street?
This is quite a complicated question because, not only do you need room for the fire truck itself, you also need room for it to maneuver and for the firefighters to work with it.
This is a real problem in some American cities too. This is because traditional American fire trucks are larger than in other areas.
One place where they’ve been working to address this is San Francisco which now uses slimmer, shorter trucks with tighter turning circles than typical American trucks use.
So, the best place to find an answer to this question is with your local fire department.
What’s An Average Fire Truck/Engine Weight?
A typical standard fire truck will run up to 60,000 lbs. or more when fully loaded and a fire engine is closer to 35,000 – 40,000 pounds.
These numbers can change once loaded with gear, tools, hose and water.
How wide/long is a fire truck/engine? It would be impossible to give any standard answer to this question because there is so much variation in types of fire truck and, indeed, even the various sizes of those truck types. However, assuming a large standard fire truck we’re talking 10’ wide (or a bit more), 40’ long, 12’ tall and up to 60,000 lbs. or more in weight.
These are big, formidable vehicles which have to carry an entire fire crew and all the equipment necessary to tackle a blaze and any other situations that the fire department may face on a regular basis. It’s no surprise that there’s so much variation in fire trucks, really.