The Evolution of Fire Trucks


Fire engines have become iconic in our times. The big red truck is immediately linked with bravery, emergencies and of course – fire, a destructive force that can cause havoc to residential areas, wildlife sanctuaries, crops and farms. Raging infernos can not only kill, but also cause extensive damage to businesses and land. Unfortunately, it was more difficult to battle the blaze in the past, and firefighters or farm occupants back then didn’t have the shiny, mean red machine to call upon. To show you where the beloved water tanker known as the fire truck came from, here is a brief history:

• Early models: OK, so the fire truck couldn’t actually come into existence before the truck was invented. The first fire fighting vehicles were actually portable water pumps. Created in the 1700’s, the “bucket brigade” would use man power to pull these hand or steam powered pumps to the location of the fire. Into the 1800’s, firefighters were eventually starting to get paid for their efforts and horses were brought on board to assist in transporting the pump.

• The first fire engine: As technology evolved and new creations were being introduced, the weight of the equipment was unable to be hauled by horses and in 1841, the first self-propelled, steam-powered fire engine in the US arrived. Built in New York, it was first seen as a dangerous and unreliable option by firefighters, but after decades passed by, it finally became popular.

• Steam power replaced: It was not long before steam power was succeeded and motorised trucks began taking over. In 1911, Mack Trucks started producing a fire truck of their own and it eventually became one of the most popular manufacturers in the industry.

• Ladders included: Buildings began increasing in size and although the ladder was already around, it began being fitted directly to the vehicle. Following World War 2, the aerial platform was introduced, which gave firefighters access to the most difficult to reach corners.

• An icon is born: During the 1960’s, the fire truck began turning into the saviour we are used to seeing today. Of course, as new technology has become available, it has been added to improve the truck. Everything from the turntable ladder to hydraulic platforms and versatile 4×4 trucks are now readily available in an emergency. High pressure fire pump

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