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If you grew up gazing at fire engines, trucks, and quints with not-so-quiet adoration, you’ve probably considered what it would be like to drive one. Moreover, if that affinity survives into adulthood, you might’ve thought about how it would be to buy one. So, can you buy a used fire truck for use as a personal vehicle?

You can buy a used fire truck as a personal vehicle, but it might be a substantial compromise

In short, you can buy a used fire truck as a driver with no agency affiliation. In fact, many enthusiasts and firefighters purchase used or classic fire apparatuses for personal enjoyment or ceremonial purposes. However, depending on the size and weight of your decommissioned rig, you may require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive one on the street. 

Still, let’s assume you have a CDL or your little pumper is small and light enough not to require one. Great. You still might not be able to take your retired fire truck on the road without some modification. For instance, your state might require that you remove or deactivate your vehicle’s emergency lights and sirens. Conversely, you could purchase a fire apparatus to drive or display on your property without making it road-legal. 

However, once your used fire truck is up to code, registered, and you’re sufficiently licensed to drive it, you can use it as a personal vehicle. That said, even with a road-legal fire apparatus in your repertoire, you might not want to drive it in traffic. For instance, modern fire engines can be around 30 or more feet in length. That’s nearly as long as a typical city bus.

A fire truck with an aerial uses lights to signal its presence in deep flood waters.
A fire apparatus drives through deep flood waters | Jason Fochtman, Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Firefighters train on obstacle courses to perform tight maneuvers in large, cumbersome fire trucks. Without special training, and even then, operators might hit parked cars, signs, and other obstacles. Moreover, emergency, service, and military vehicles of all types live hard lives. Even with relatively low mileage, these vehicles are exposed to the elements and dynamic challenges. Rain, shine, snow, ice, or floods, fire departments respond to emergencies.

So, if none of that scares you, you can hop onto a government auction site like GovPlanet to find Ford, Pierce, and Spartan fire trucks. Interestingly enough, you can find foreign examples as well. For instance, at the time of this writing, I found several Kronenburg trucks for sale after careers with the Dutch Brandweer.