Fire Engine Parts & Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

We've all seen fire engines speeding down the road on their way to put out fires. In this lesson, you'll learn about how fire engines developed and how to identify some important parts of a fire engine.

It's a Fire Alarm!

Wee-woo-wee-woo-wee-woo! A fire engine is coming down the street! It's important to get out of the way so the firefighters can get to the scene of the fire as soon as possible. They need to get water pumping so they can put out the fire. Have you ever wondered about the first fire engines?

Like today's fire engines, the first fire engines were actually just water pumps that had wheels so they could be moved around. These original fire engines were usually pulled by horses or even people and were used starting in the 1700s. Like today's fire engines, their main job was to pump water. Back then, there were no fire hydrants and the water usually came from nearby well or lake.

Old-Fashioned Fire Engine

In the 1800s, the fire engines didn't change much. They did add running boards and steps on the back so that the firefighters could ride on the fire engine to get to the scene of the fire. They used horns and bells instead of the sirens we use today.

Ladders were added to fire engines beginning in the 1930s, because buildings were becoming taller. Especially in large cities, firefighters needed a way to reach the higher floors.

An Old FireTruck with Ladders

The fire trucks we see today look very much like those that were used 70 years ago. The main changes have been to the equipment used by the firefighters. Firefighting teams use more technology and computers to help them get to the fire quickly, track the locations of firefighters, and to keep firefighters safe.

Parts of a Fire Engine

Look at the picture of the modern fire engine. You'll see lots of yellow arrows pointing to the parts of the fire engine.



The ladder helps the firefighters reach the higher floors of a building. Not all fire engines have ladders.


Firefighters use the hoses to squirt water on the fire. The hoses are attached to the fire engine, where there are pumps that control the water flowing out of the fire hydrant.

Storage Compartment

Firefighters keep their equipment, such as hatchets, hats, coats, boots, and other tools in the storage compartments on the fire engine.

Elevating Cylinders

This fire engine has elevating cylinder because it has a very tall ladder. The elevating cylinders help raise the ladder. Notice that the word 'elevating' starts the same as 'elevator.' In both these words, something is being raised up higher.

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