FDNY Fire Engine Driver’s Training: Lectures, Simulator, Obstacle Course, Tests

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New York City firefighters train for two weeks on Randalls Island to learn how to drive fire trucks. Some fire trucks weigh 40 tons and are 42 feet long. The training includes lectures, a virtual simulator, and an obstacle course.

Firefighters that become drivers of fire trucks and fire engines in New York City go through a two-week training course that includes lectures, written tests, a simulator, and obstacles course training and practice.

Imagine backing up a 42-foot fire truck while weaving through barrels without knocking them down. That’s part of the obstacle course training.

Tech Insider produced this video with an important description of two key vehicles in the fire department — a fire engine and a fire truck. A fire truck is not a catch-all phrase. A fire truck (usually simply called a truck) is specifically a fire vehicle with a long mechanical ladder that can be used for rescues while raised to upper floors of a building. The main ladder can also be used to stream water on the fire from an elevated position.

A fire engine (usually simply called an engine) is a vehicle that pumps water to the firefighters advancing hose lines to attack the fire. Fire engines might also pump water to other fire engines when there is a long reach to attack the fire, or in cases where the fire hydrant closest to the fire is frozen or broken. The engine in front of the fire scene with the broken fire hydrant might need to receive water from another engine that is parked down the street attached to a functioning fire hydrant. Fire engines might also be used to connect to ladder trucks to bring a strong stream of water for elevated water streams aimed at the fire.

Of course, there are variations of these definitions in fire vehicles that are used across the United States and in the northwest suburbs. A Tower Ladder is a variation of the fire truck that includes a platform at the top of the ladder. A Quint is a vehicle with a ladder that has the dual purpose features of an Engine and Ladder Truck. A quint includes five features — a pump, a water tank, fire hose, an aerial device (mechanized ladder), and ground ladders. A Hook and Ladder Truck or Tiller Truck provides a longer length, but with greater maneuverability because there is a steering driver in the front and the end of the truck.

Municipalities in the northwest suburbs use a variety of ladder vehicle categories. Currently Arlington Heights uses Tower Ladders, Palatine uses a Quint and a Tower Ladder, and Schaumburg uses Trucks. Selection of specific ladder vehicles are subject to change as time passes and neighborhoods in communities change. For example, condo developments with tight access roads and tight turns tend to require the use of Quints for best access.

Most fire agencies use engines, but some fire agencies in rural areas might use tankers or tenders which carry more water, but still have pumping capability.



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The New York City Fire Department Academy is operated on Randalls Island. The FDNY academy facilities include classrooms, a 200,000 U.S. gallons (760,000 L) water supply tank, a subway tunnel with tracks and two subway cars, a training course for fire engine and ladder truck drivers, a helicopter pad, a replica ship, and multiple buildings designed to simulate the different types of building construction encountered within the city limits.

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