What Are The Dimensions Of Firetrucks?

Dustin Hawley | Feb 11, 2021

Data from the National Fire Protection Association estimates that fire departments respond to an average of over 350,000 home structure fires a year, which accounts for a yearly average of $7.2 billion in property damage. Imagine what these numbers might be if it were not for the bravery and dedication of firefighters across the nation. And it’s not just the firefighters themselves that keep us protected; it’s also the tools they use, like the modern fire engine.

dimensions of a firetruck

Firetrucks are made in various shapes and sizes to accommodate the specific needs of the locales they serve and protect. Manufacturers face the challenging task of balancing a vehicle’s effectiveness with its size, as road width and congestion can severely impact response time. 

Let’s take a look at the dimensions of different firetruck classes and how it affects their ability to put out the flames.

What Is A Firetruck?

A firetruck is a road vehicle that operates as a firefighting apparatus. This term relates to any vehicle that is customized or built to aid in fighting fires, including waterbombers, helitankers, fireboats, and various types of other land vehicles.

The term firetruck is often misused to describe the three most common ground firefighting apparatuses: Fire truck, fire engine, and aerial ladder truck. We need to take a look at the differences between them to form a clear picture:

  • Fire trucks are a transportation vehicle that accommodates firefighters and their gear. They are auxiliary vehicles that typically do not carry water and focus primarily on rescue tools. Ground ladders can be seen on the side, while the roof-mounted aerial ladder gives more rescue and breach options to the firefighters.
  • Fire engines are outfitted with a large water tank and accompanying equipment. High-pressure pumps can push water to the top of its aerial ladder and provide a better firefighting position, and the term ”fire truck” is most commonly used in reference to this specific type of vehicle, 
  • Aerial ladder trucks can be viewed as a subcategory of fire engines, where the water tank is replaced by a more capable ladder. High-pressure pumps draw water from hydrants, rivers, or lakes and have the best reach.

Fire trucks and fire engines are dispatched alongside other emergency assist vehicles to increase the chances of putting out fires and rescuing victims. Now that we know the differences between the vehicles let’s take a look at their dimensions. 

Dimensions Of Firefighting Vehicles

Due to their importance, firefighting trucks do not have to abide by the rules restricting vehicles’ size and weight on certain roads. However, this increased size can result in slower response times and difficulty reaching affected areas.

Fire departments are tasked with this obstacle, often tackling the problem by having a wide range of vehicles at their disposal. That way, no matter the situation, they have the available equipment for the most optimal response. 

Manufacturers don’t use unified terms to describe their vehicles, so in light of this, we will utilize the classification established by the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA). 

Commercial Chassis Pumper - Single Rear Axle 

Pumpers or fire engines of this type are built on a commercial truck’s base, meaning that their maximum weight and dimension will be determined by the model of truck used (though still within requirements). The cabin of a pumper offers space for up to 3 firefighters, and other measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 12,000 to 18,000 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 21,000 to 31,000 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches 
  • Height of 9 to 12 feet
  • Length of 24 to 35 feet

Custom Chassis Pumper - Single Rear Axle 

A specifically designed or a modified commercial chassis transforms a pumper into a double-cab truck that can accommodate a crew of up to six. All of these benefits are gained without a significant difference in size compared to the commercial model. This type of firetruck can also be configured as an industrial foam pumper to combat fires that are inextinguishable with water. Measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 18,000 to 24,000 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 24,000 to 31,000 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches 
  • Height of 9 to 12 feet 
  • Length of 30 to 36 feet

Aerial Ladder Pumper- Single Rear Axle 

The inclusion of an aerial ladder on the custom chassis significantly affects the dimensions compared to that of a classic pumper. It can be seen with or without a shielded basket for firefighters to operate from and can also be used to hoist victims secured to a stretcher. This vehicle’s measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 20,000 to 22,800 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 24,000 to 33,500 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches 
  • Height of 11 to 12.5 feet
  • Length of 36 to 43 feet

Commercial Chassis Tanker- Tandem Rear Axle 

The Tandem rear axle truck provides a significant improvement in weight distribution from its contemporaries, allowing for heavier loads while staying within the dimensions of a single-axle model. Measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 12,000 to 18,000 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 34,000 to 56,000 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches
  • Height of 10 to 12 feet 
  • Length of 30 to 40 feet

Custom Chassis Tanker - Tandem Rear Axle 

Tandem rear axle tanker benefits mirror those of the custom chassis tanker and industrial foam pumper. An increase in length is noted as the only change in dimensions, where measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 18,740 to 24,000 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 40,000 to 56,000 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches 
  • Height of 10 to 12 feet 
  • Length of 34 to 40 feet

Aerial Ladder Tanker - Tandem Rear Axle 

Two axles in the rear provide the aerial ladder tanker with greater stability, especially when used in conjunction with anchors. Measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 20,000 to 22,800 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 34,000 to 54,000 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches 
  • Height of 11 to 12.5 feet 
  • Length of 39 to 43 feet

Aerial Ladder Mid Mount & Rear Mount - Tandem Rear Axle

The ladder’s mounting position significantly affects its maximum length, carry weight, and vehicle stability. Measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 21,500 to 24,000 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 40,000 to 62,000 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches 
  • Height of 9.5 to 13 feet 
  • Length of 46 to 51 feet

Aerial Ladder - Tiller Single & Tandem Rear Tractor Axle

By far, the largest ground vehicles firefighters use are the tractor-drawn aerial ladder trucks. The ladders on these behemoths achieve a vertical and horizontal reach of over 100 feet and can carry 750 pounds in their basket. While it may be their most significant benefit, size is also their most profound limitation. In some cases, auxiliary vehicles clear the path for them to reach the place of incident. Measurements and ratings include:

  • Front gross axle weight rating of 21,500 to 24,000 pounds
  • Rear gross axle weight rating of 27,000 to 44,000 pounds
  • Tiller gross axle weight rating of 21,500 to 24,000 pounds
  • Width of 98 to 100 inches 
  • Height of 10.5 to 11.5 feet 
  • Length of 56 to 63 feet

Summary

From the smallest commercial models to massive tillers, firefighters are well equipped to deal with any situation. We hope we have effectively detailed the dimensions of these vehicles, and the next time you see a firetruck speeding away, you’ll know what type it is and have a clear understanding of its size and functionality.

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