Do Fire Trucks Carry Water?

Do Fire Trucks Carry Water?

When you think of a fire truck, you think of loud sirens, red lights, perhaps an extendable ladder and a lot of water.

But do fire trucks really carry water? And why do they need to be connected to a hydrant?

Read on to find out!

Do Fire Trucks Carry Water?

Many of us use the term fire truck interchangeably with fire engine when it comes to referring to the vehicle that we call when we need help with a fire.

However, there are some clear differences between fire engine and fire truck, and one of these differences is that a fire truck doesn’t typically carry water.

Fire trucks commonly carry large ladders that can extend from the vehicle. They also carry a full set of ground ladders and other specialized equipment that are needed.

But fire trucks do not carry water tanks.

In comparison, fire engines come with all the equipment needed for putting out fire.

Fire engines carry a large water tank, pumps, a set of hoses and any other tools that firefighters need.

A Short History Of The Fire Engine

Fire engines have been around almost since human civilization began.

As most early buildings were made of wood which easily catches fire, it was essential that there was a system to fight fires quickly in an emergency.

Initially, people only used water pumps on wagon wheels to get to a fire. However, as the villages, towns and cities have expanded over the centuries, populations have become denser.

This increased the risk of fire, and the need for fire protection systems. It also meant that fires needed to be put out much quicker, or they would spread fast.

This led to first horse drawn water wagons, then gasoline engines. As steam engines and automation developed, so did the fire engine becoming a modern fire engine over time.

Types Of Fire Trucks And Fire Engines

There are a number of different types of fire engines and fire trucks.

They comply with standards set by the Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the NWCG Standards for Wildland Fire.

Each fire truck type carries specific equipment, and is designed with specific components.

Let’s take a look at the different characteristics of these fire engine types.

Type 1 Fire Engine

Type 1 Fire Engine

The Type 1 fire truck is the fire engine that you will see around most of the time. It is most commonly used in cities and larger towns.

These fire engines are designed for urban and rural fire departments.

Type 1 fire engines carry a water tank of a minimum 300 gallons, as well as hoses, nozzles, ladders and other NFPA firefighting equipment.

These fire trucks also carry some first aid medical equipment, chainsaws, hazmat gear and other essential firefighting gear.

Type 2 Fire Engine

Type 2 fire trucks have many of the main features that the Type 1 fire engine has. However, they are not commonly found at fire departments, although they are versatile vehicles.

Type 2 fire engines are typically used for suburban or urban accident and rescue responses.

Similar to a Type 1 fire engine, the Type 2 fire truck can also carry up to 4 firefighters, as well as basic firefighting equipment and tools, including chainsaws, breathing apparatus and other specialized gear.

This type of fire engine is ideal for smaller fire departments, or fire stations that require a compact rescue engine with a much smaller water tank and pump.

Although this fire truck comes with a smaller water tank, it has much more storage capacity to store rescue equipment.

Type 3 Fire Engine

The Type 3 fire engine is commonly known as a wildland fire truck. This is because it is often used in more rural areas.

Its unique design adapts well to some of the difficult terrains where a rescue operation takes place out in the wild.

With their 4x4 chassis, wildland fire trucks can easily maneuver in tough off-road situations.

This makes them ideal for responding to wildfires and other firefighting scenarios when the vehicle is not always on firm ground.

Wildland fire engines can carry up to 3 passengers, and they also come with a water tank of a minimum of 500 gallons of water.

One more unusual feature of the Type 3 fire fighting engine is that it is usually equipped with a power-take-off pump which allows the vehicle to stay in motion while fighting fire.

This is crucial in situations such as wildfires, where firefighters can then follow bush fires or forest fires, and move with the change of wind and weather conditions.

Type 4 Fire Engine

The Type 4 fire truck is similar to the Type 3 fire engine. The difference between them is that the Type 4 fire engine has a larger water tank which carries around 750 gallons of water.

However, a larger water tank means that the Type 4 truck has a reduced hose capacity allowing it to pump less water than the Type 3.

They are also used in forest fire scenarios but with their larger water tank, they can be used for almost any emergency response.

Type 5, Type 6 And Type 7 Fire Engines

These three types of fire engines are often grouped together because they are very similar in design and equipment.

They are a much simpler pick-up truck design but each type varies in weight adapting to different firefighting conditions.


Many firefighters make the distinction between fire trucks, that do not carry water, and fire engines, which are designed to carry up to 500 gallons of water.

However, there is a wide range of firefighting vehicles that are designed for different situations, with the tools and equipment that are needed.

Some feature larger water tanks than the typical fire engine, while others are designed for search and rescue missions only.