||This article needs attention from an expert on the subject. (June 2009)|
A current Class "A" rated Engine company must have a fire pump capable of pumping not less than 1,250 US gallons (4,700 L) per minute and carry no less than 750 US gallons (2,800 L) of water in an on board tank, plus specific hose amounts, plus ground ladders. In the late 1980s, the original concept was to marry the capabilities of a heavy rescue squad, and what was then a Class A rated pumper, which was to add 1,000 gpm fire pump or greater and 500 US gallons (1,900 L) of water.
Fire Pumper ratings increase as apparatus progress and innovation is made. During the 1960s and '70s a Class A pumper had to carry 300 US gallons (1,100 L) of water and pump 750 US gallons (2,800 L) per minute. There are now pumpers that can easily pump 3,000 gpm or more. It is expected over the next few years, as foam is used more on structure fires, that NFPA should be upgrading the requirements of a Class A pump to 1,500 gpm and probably a 1,000 US gallons (3,800 L) of fire extinguishment agent i.e.: both Class A foam (250 US gallons (950 L)) and water (750 US gallons (2,800 L))or a close combination of these quantities.
This first design did not include all the supply hose that is usually carried on a typical engine company, but it did have the tool-carrying capacity of a heavy squad, including extrication equipment and specialized rescue tools, not carried on ladder trucks or engine companies, high capacity lifting air bags, cacades systems for filling breathing air packs, heavy-duty power generators for scene lighting at night, special rope rescue equipment for high-rise and high-angle rescue, and possibly hazardous materials response equipment. The first unit designed by Firechief S E Politano asked W.S. Darley & Co. equipment in 1989, for a small department in northwestern Virginia, but it was never built. However, other manufacturers, who originally did not want to build a new specialty unit, did finally build the first one in 1991 for Fairoaks VFD in Northern Virginia as pictured in link for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.
The original design by Chief Politano, was basically a heavy rescue squad with a 1,000 gpm pump and a 500-US-gallon (1,900 L) water tank, nothing more, no extra hose other than basic attack lines. Most heavy squads do not have pumps and on-board tanks. If they do, it is usually not more than a 300 gpm pump and 100–200 US gallons (760 L) of water.
There are also Paramedic Engines which are not Rescue Engines. Paramedic engines are typical engine companies with Advanced Life Support paramedics and drugs on board for patient treatment. Most engine companies are either basic life support or advanced first aid responders, some have no EMS (Emergency Medical Service) personnel on them at all, although this is becoming less common, most all paid departments and many volunteer agencies require at least CPR and either American Red Cross Advanced First Aid, or Emergency Medical Technical First Responder- again, Rescue Engine refers to specific heavy rescue tools and apparatus layout of an engine not its EMS status.
The current design is more like a typical fire engine than a true rescue pumper. Today's Rescue Engine differs from the original unit concept,"Rescue Pumper" designed by Fire Chief S E Politano, which was simply to add more initial fire fighting (onboard water and pumping capacity) capabilities to a heavy rescue squad, not bring heavy rescue squad capabilities to an engine company.
In comparison a Heavy Rescue Squad by NFPA is as follows: A heavy rescue vehicle, often referred to as a rescue company, rescue squad, heavy rescue, or simply, fire engine is a type of specialty firefighting or EMS (Emergency Medical Services) apparatus. Essentially oversized toolboxes on wheels, they are primarily designed for technical rescue situations such as auto accidents, rope rescues, swiftwater rescues, or collapses . On the fireground, rescue squads may be responsible for truck company operations (such as structure ventilation, ladder operations, or Rapid Intervention Team operations) or search and rescue. They carry an array of special equipment such as the Jaws of life, wooden cribbing, generators, winches, hi-lift jacks, cutting torches, saws and many other powerful and destructive tools.
NFPA (National Fire Protection Association in the U.S.) regulation 1006 and 1670 give guidelines and regulations for the operation of heavy rescue vehicles and also state that all "rescuers" must have medical training to perform any technical rescue operation, including cutting the vehicle itself . Therefore, in most all rescue environments, whether it is an EMS Department or Fire Department that runs the rescue, the actual rescuers who cut the vehicle and run the extrication scene are Medical First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians, or Paramedics, as a motor vehicle accident has a patient involved.
In addition to fire brigades and rescue departments, e.g. tram or railway companies may have their own heavy rescue squads specialized to tram or train accidents . For example, railway rescue squads may carry very specialized equipment for railway accidents like hydraulic jacks with a lifting capacity of 160 metric tons (approx. 176 short tons or 353,000 pounds) - or even more, equipment for moving locomotives horizontally, and equipment for tank car accidents .
Rescue squads can also carry the necessary equipment to respond to and deal with Haz-Mat incidents. These types of apparatus may also be equipped with a pump and tank(s) for water and/or foam, but at least they carry materials for decontamination, absorption of chemicals, blocking up a leakage, and protective suits for firefighters.
- W S DARLEY Equipment orders 1990
- Minutes Timber Ridge Rescue Company c. 1989–1990
- Personal Notes from Fire Chief S. Politano to fire manufactures dated the end of 1985 into January 1986