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You can see work trucks and even the occasional Ambulance at your local gas station. However, you probably haven’t seen a fire truck like an engine or quint stop at the pumps. So, why don’t you ever see fire trucks at the gas stations in busy cities like Los Angeles or Austin?

Many fire trucks across the country have access to official fuel pumps or public works stations to fill fire trucks with diesel

Sure, the odd ambulance will fill up at a gas station to get back on the road quickly. After all, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies tend to have higher call volumes than fire departments. 

What you likely haven’t seen, however, is a fire truck or police car at a gas station. Well, there’s a reason for that. Most fire trucks, like engines, quints, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) trucks, or rescue trucks, visit government-run public works gas stations. That, or some departments operate their own fuel pumps at a fire station. 

A fire engine shows off its side profile.
A fire engine | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

For instance, my former department, Anchorage Middletown Fire & EMS (AMFEMS), operated a fuel pump at one of our firehouse locations. An engineer would back a fire truck up to the pumps, and use the department’s fuel tracker to account for how much diesel the truck needs. It’s also a good location to top up your large truck’s Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) reservoir. The DEF solution helps to turn a large diesel truck’s nitrogen oxide gases into a much less harmful mixture.

It’s not just fire trucks; police cars often use municipal or government-run pumps to fill up their cruisers. It’s a prudent move as well. A busy gas station has the potential to be a dangerous stop for law enforcement officers, whereas a set of public works pumps behind a chain link fence is much safer.