Support apparatus

Rescue trucks are basically an invention of the 20th century, and their purpose is not as clear cut as most other fire apparatus. Rescues have many purposes, they range from mobile toolboxes carrying specialized equipment to personnel carriers. Rescues may be built on a light truck chassis or a large truck using a heavy duty custom chassis. Their crew may be just one firefighter who drives the truck to the emergency scene or as many as 6 to 10 firefighters who rush from one incident to the next providing additional staffing where needed. Pumpers specializing in rescue tasks also exist, these are generally referred to as Rescue-Pumpers or Squads, they carry all the equipment usually seen on a pumper as well as a large complement of rescue equipment. Before breathing apparatus was commonplace on the fire ground the Rescue companies often included this equipment for particularly smoky fires or chemical emergencies.

There are many common varieties that fall under the category of Rescue: 

Light Rescues are built on a light duty truck or van chassis, they may provide additional equipment to support fire ground operations and/or be set up for specialized rescue operations such as water rescue, high angle / cliff rescue or carry hydraulic rescue tools to remove patients from vehicles at motor vehicle accidents. Similar vehicles are occasionally used for responding to medical emergencies with a crew of paramedics, some resemble ambulances and may carry a patient. Due to their small size these vehicles rarely carry enough equipment to specialize in more than one or two areas or have a large enough crew to operate alone, because of this they generally are supported by or support another type of unit. Light rescues that focus on one type of rescue are often named for it, examples being Surf rescue, River rescue, Paramedic Squad, Freeway unit etc.  

Light rescue Light rescue
Light rescue Surf Rescue


Rescue trucks are usually built on a commercial medium duty or custom chassis. Generally they are used to provide additional staffing and equipment at fires and have crews the same size or larger than an engine crew. When used for fire ground support they carry similar equipment to an engine or truck company although they rarely carry hose and if they have ladders they rarely carry more than a pumper. Like light rescues they may carry equipment for special rescue situations but since they are larger they may specialize in more areas and / or carry larger quantities of rescue equipment. These also may be called medium rescues or Squad companies. Trailers are often used as a low cost alternative to these vehicles.

Heavy Rescues are built on medium or heavy duty truck chassis, they are often used for fire ground support but are equipped for specialized technical rescue situations such as building collapses and industrial emergencies. Due to their cost and size they are much more common in urban areas. Some are equipped with large cranes. Tractor- trailer rigs are occasionally used for Heavy Rescue as well.

Rescue Heavy rescue


Air/light units are used to provide lighting at night and to refill air bottles for self contained breathing apparatus at large fires or hazmat incidents. They generally carry a large compressor and / or air cascade system used to refill breathing apparatus. They also mount a generator, lighting equipment, and extra cylinders for breathing apparatus. Many also carry a variety of firefighting tools and other support equipment and may be used like a rescue truck. Typically these trucks are built on a light duty truck chassis but can also be found on medium or heavy duty trucks depending on how they are used and how much equipment they carry

Air/Light Unit Air/Light Unit


Hazmat trucks specialize in hazardous materials response. Their size varies with the need. The smallest are built on a light truck chassis but many are built on a heavy duty custom chassis. Midsize chassis such as delivery vans or beverage trucks are very popular and trailers are also fairly common. Tractor-trailer rigs are occasionally used. 

Hazmat truck Hazmat truck
Hazmat truck Hazmat truck


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