Who Makes Fire Trucks, and How Much Does a New Fire Truck Cost?

There’s something about a huge red truck barreling down the road with lights flashing which makes it clear it’s time to get out of the way. Whether it’s going to a fire or rushing to save a kitten trapped in another tree, these trucks have a way of catching the eye. So how much do they cost, and what’s the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine?

Fire trucks and fire engines are different?

Two red fire trucks parked inside.
Fire truck | Getty Images

It’s true. Fire trucks and fire engines are not the same. So what’s the difference?

The two have a lot in common, and may even look the same at first glance, the main way to tell them apart is to look for a water tank. This will be on the fire engine, which will also carry hoses, pumpers, and tools.

Fire engines show up to fires first, so they can get to work putting the fire out thanks to the large water tank on the back. It also carries hoses and will hook up to hydrants, but this takes crucial time while the fire can spread, which is why the fire engine is so crucial. The tank can hold 750 gallons of water, but firefighters can also pull water from lakes, rivers, or even swimming pools.

On the other hand, a fire truck doesn’t carry water. This is the truck that often shows up to emergency calls that don’t involve fire, like car wrecks. They carry tools like the jaws of life, ladders, sledgehammers, saws, spreaders, axes, and wenches to name a few. It’s common for both types of truck to show up to an emergency.

These are the biggest truck manufacturers in the country

According to Thomas Net, the company which makes the most fire trucks in America is Oshkosh Defense. This company makes over $250 million each year. Oshkosh Defense also manufactures firefighting vehicles which are used to handle aircraft fires, and builds military vehicles.

Another company which helps produce fire trucks and engines is Spartan Motors. It manufactures custom chassis, and brings in over $250 million a year.

The companies which come in third and fourth place for developing fire trucks and engines are E-One, Inc and Ferrara Fire Apparatus Inc. Both companies bring in around $50-99.9 million a year. 

Ferrara actually produces and delivers over 6,000 fire trucks globally each year. The shocking factor about this is Ferrara operates with only 200-499 employees, which is very impressive.

How much do they actually cost?

If you’re in the market for a fire truck, it’s good to know that civilians can own one as long as they deactivate the siren and lights which send out the alarm that there’s a fire. If you want a brand-new truck, you’re looking at about a million dollars, give or take.

Used trucks are much cheaper, probably thanks to the wear and tear they experience battling blazes. With that being said, you can sometimes find a used fire truck on eBay for less than $20K. 

Owning a fire truck is obviously going to be expensive, especially if you plan to drive it on the road. You’re looking at about 6 miles per gallon. While it’s true that this is only slightly worse than a Hummer H1, it’s still going to be very expensive to drive. 

Finding parts if it breaks down, getting insurance, and finding a space to keep them are going to be expensive as well. It might be better served as a collector item to show off to friends and family.

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