The first truck out of the station on a house fire is the tanker. This truck carries 1,800 gallons of water which can be used to start extinguishing the fire even before the truck is hooked up to a hydrant. It has a complete pump panel on the side of the truck on the driver's side. This allows the pump operator to manage all of the water coming into and going out of the truck.
This is also the truck that is sent to auto accidents. It has extrication tools (the "Jaws of Life" or Hurst tools) to cut, pry, or spread parts of a damaged automobile to allow us to safely remove trapped victims. It is also used on accident scenes to wash spilled fluids, debris, and broken glass off the road.
The silver panel on the side of the truck towards the rear in the photo is a drop tank. If we were at a fire where there was not a working hydrant close enough (not very likely within the city limits), we would lower the drop tank to the ground (it looks like a big backyard swimming pool). Other trucks would then travel to a water source (working hydrants, lakes, ponds, etc.), fill their trucks' tanks, drive to the scene, dump that water into the drop tank, and head back for more. The truck on scene would then suck water out of the drop tank and pump it to the firefighters manning the hoselines.
The engine is the second truck out of the station on a house fire. Its first objective is to make sure the tanker has a supply line, that is, a large hose running from the hydrant to the tanker to ensure a continuous supply of water. If the hydrant is too far away from the tanker for the hydrant to supply adequate pressure to the tanker, the engine can position itself between the two and relay-pump to boost the water pressure.
The engine also has its own tank of water, pump panel, deck gun, and hoselines. The engine is different from the other two trucks in that its pump panel is located in the center of the truck facing rearward and the seats for the firefighters are outside the cab.
The third truck on scene at a house fire would be the ladder truck. Some of its responsibilities, in addition to bringing another firefighting crew, include setting up ventilation (to strategically remove heat, smoke, and toxic gasses), RIT (rapid intervention team--a crew of firefighters equipped and standing by for the purpose of quickly responding in the event that a firefighter is in trouble), setting up lights to illuminate the scene, and setting up any ladders that may be needed.
The ladder mounted on the truck can be extended to 75 feet. It can be raised to almost 80 degrees and rotated in 360 degrees. In addition to giving firefighters stable access to high places, it has a nozzle on the end that can be controlled from the pump panel on the side of the truck, allowing it to be directed up-down and side-to-side and control the flow of the water from a straight stream to a wide-angle fog.
Utility 11 / Rescue 11
The fourth truck to arrive on a fire scene is the utility van. It is assigned to staging, which is where all equipment can be picked up and dropped off and where firefighting crews not currently assigned to a task stand by until their next assignment.
The utility truck has a five-bottle on-board cascade system, which is used to refill empty SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) bottles (like SCUBA, just not underwater). After getting a full bottle for their SCBA, a cold bottle of water, and a few minutes' rest, firefighters are ready to be assigned to another task.
When not on a fire call, the van is usually referred to as "Rescue 11." It is the truck that we take to emergency medical calls. It has a first aid bag, an oxygen tank, an AED (automated external defibrillator, the device used to attempt to restart someone's heart if they've had a heart attack), a backboard, a cervical collar, and other emergency medical supplies.
A source of pride, a link to the past, a parade favorite, and the source of the non-Maltese-Cross version of the OFD logo, the 1929 REO Speedwagon was used by the department for many years. The siren, mounted on the outside next to the passenger seat is operated by a hand-crank. The bar across the back was used by the crew of firefighters who rode to the scene standing on the tailboard and hung on tight--especially in the middle of an icy winter night on the way to a fire miles out of town!
What are all the 11's for?
When a fire department has many stations, they are typically numbered: Station #1, Station #2, and so on. Each station's officers and trucks are then numbered with a two-digit number starting with their station number, while each second digit gets incremented when there is more than one of a particular truck or officer. Since Osseo has one fire station and only one of each kind of truck, they are all numbered 11.