The Difference Between Fire Trucks and Fire Engines and Why They Don’t Have Keys

Fire engine, fire truck — the terms may seem interchangeable, but they’re not. Fire engines are large vehicles that sometimes go by the name “pumpers.” Firefighters ride in a fire engine, which has a myriad of equipment the firefighting crew will need to put out a fire. They also include emergency lighting and sirens, as well as mobile tech and two-way radios for communication. Now for the confusing part. Fire trucks look just like fire engines, but they don’t always have water pumps. A fire engine is there to put out the fire, while a fire truck is there to extricate victims and provide ventilation. Fire trucks also have hydraulic ladders, while fire engines don’t. Fire engines are the first to arrive on scene, with fire trucks normally arrive a few minutes later. To make it completely clear: fire engines put out the fire, fire trucks ventilate and rescue. There is, however, one thing that both fire engines and fire trucks have in common: Neither of them has keys. The vehicles both come with what’s referred to as a “dummy switch,” which when pushed will start the engine. Just in case you’re wondering why they don’t get stolen, it’s because there’s a 3-step process to starting and driving the vehicles, and someone jumping on one to take off with it would have no knowledge of those steps.