The resounding horn, brightly colored lights and fascinating equipment is enough to make any child want to learn more about fire trucks. If your child is mesmerized by the passing of a fire engine, entertain and intrigue him even more by teaching him a variety of fun facts about the trucks and their history.
The first fire truck wasn't a truck at all. According to National Geographic, the first fire apparatus was a hand pump that firefighters transported on giant wheels by pushing and pulling it instead of driving it. The first self-propelled fire truck wasn't invented until 1841. There are three types of modern fire trucks. Pumper and tanker trucks, which carry several hundred gallons of water, can measure up to 30 feet long. Ladder trucks, which are used to put out fires in high rises and skyscrapers, are even longer and can measure up to 40 feet long. Their ladders can extend up to 95 feet. Your children might also be interested to learn that not all fire trucks are red like they're often portrayed in books and on television. Fire trucks can be white, green or black, too.
The fire truck is more of a transporter of tools than a tool itself. While some fire trucks carry water, their primary responsibility is to get firefighters and their equipment to the scene of the blaze. Fire trucks haul several hundred feet of thick hoses that range in diameter from 1 3/4 inches to 5 inches. The truck also carries hose nozzles and fire hydrant wrenches, which help firefighters attach the hose to a fire hydrant. The firefighters carry ladders, axes, fire extinguishers and pike poles, which are used to pull down ceilings to check for embers that could reignite the blaze. Trucks carry extrication tools, too, which are used to get people out of trapped cars. The Jaws of Life is one such tool and it helps firefighters pry car doors open when they've been mangled in a car accident.
Your children have probably watched a fire truck go screaming past, and they might be interested to know that despite their large size, fire trucks can go fast. A fire truck can reach speeds of 60 to 70 mph, but they generally go slower than that when they're driving on busy roads with street lights and heavy traffic. Share with your children that when drivers hear a fire truck siren, they should pull over so the fire truck can respond to the scene as quickly as possible.
Fire trucks can have up to eight firefighters at a time. The driver of the truck is called the engineer and he's specially trained to handle the large size of the fire truck. Each of the firefighters haul their bunker gear onto the engine. Bunker gear refers to the coats, pants, helmet and gloves that firefighters wear to protect themselves from the flames. Firefighters might also wear goggles to protect their eyes and carry an air pack so they can breathe clean air while putting out the blaze. Each firefighter on the truck has a special job so when they arrive on the scene they can get straight to work putting out the fire.