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Comment: November 2013

How many trucks do you have?

November 12, 2013 
By Laura King

How many trucks do you have?

In the seven years I have been in this job, those six words have become a bit of an icebreaker for me when meeting men and women of the Canadian fire service. Sometimes people don’t quite have a measure of me and I don’t quite know what makes a particular department tick. All firefighters like to talk about trucks, and once that conversation starts, usually everything else follows naturally.

This issue of Fire Fighting in Canada is our annual apparatus edition. Starting on page 65, you’ll find our showcase of trucks delivered by manufacturers to departments across Canada, and the information about the engines, pumps and options that are so vital to each department’s needs.

Most fire departments in Canada are small and most fire chiefs will lead the purchase of one, maybe two, trucks during their tenure; all chiefs want to get it right, and for good reason.


Prices of larger apparatuses can easily top $500,000 and your department will have to live with its decision for years to come – at that price, there are no do overs.

Rescue trucks, tankers, aerials, pumpers, command vehicles – the wish list within a department can be as varied as the number of opinions about what is needed.

On that point, we have a great piece on page 10 about best practices for including the input of firefighters when assessing your department’s needs and how firefighters can best contribute to the process. Chris Dennis’s Truck Tech column on apparatus safety on page 28 complements that story, and is a good reminder for veterans and a great primer for recruits.

If you stand in a truck bay next to a 10-year-old apparatus, you vividly understand that the technology and the demands of the service will continue to evolve. There will be more efficient pumps, better aerial technology and new construction materials. Lighter, faster, more mobile European-style vehicles are becoming popular alternatives as departments search for the resource balance needed to respond efficiently without having to dispatch a mammoth piece of apparatus to every call.

Even if your department is not looking to buy right now, this issue will help you keep up with what is happening in the market.

To finish where I started, there’s a reason people in the fire service like to talk about trucks.

Each truck is unique, customized to reflect the needs of a particular department, and, as such, it becomes a source of pride.

Aside from the people wearing the uniforms, trucks are the most important symbols of a department in the community – symbols of authority and trust.

For some they are inspirational and, figuratively, drive dreams of future firefighters.

So, how many trucks do you have?

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