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Three pumper fire apparatus are parked outside of a warehouse facility featuring a bright blue sky scattered with white puffy clouds. When most people think of a fire truck, they think of a pumper—an emergency response vehicle carrying water and firefighters to put out a fire.

But there’s more to consider.

Below, we review several different types of pumper fire trucks, including National Fire Protection Association specifications, configuration types and what fire department representatives should know as they choose the right option for their needs. This is the ultimate guide to Pierce Manufacturing pumper fire apparatus!

What is A Pumper Fire Truck?

Two firefighters are holding a hose spraying water outside with a white firetruck and pine trees in the background.The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that a pumper fire truck is “[a] fire apparatus with a permanently mounted fire pump of at least 750 gpm (3000 L/min) capacity, water tank and hose body whose primary purpose is to combat structural and associated fires.”

In addition, NFPA also requires that pumper fire trucks have a “minimum of 40 cubic feet of enclosed weather-resistant compartmentation that meets the requirements of NFPA.” This is used to store firefighting equipment.

As long as trucks are built to follow NFPA specifications detailed in Chapter 5 of The Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, pumpers can vary in length, width, height and added features. Below, we compare several types of pumper fire trucks and outline any additional standards the trucks are required to meet.

Initial Attack or Mini Pumper Fire Apparatus

A red and white mini pumper fire apparatus is angle parked on an asphalt road with trees in the background.

Initial attack fire apparatus, or mini pumpers, may not look much like a traditional fire truck to most onlookers. Built on a truck chassis, a mini pumper’s mission is often to arrive on scene first to initiate firefighting tasks.

NFPA defines a mini pumper as “fire apparatus with a fire pump of at least 250 gpm (1000 L/min) capacity, water tank, and hose body whose primary purpose is to initiate a fire suppression attack on structural, vehicular, or vegetation fires, and to support associated fire department operations.”

A mini pumper fire truck is well suited in any department. The smaller and more maneuverable design means that a mini pumper can arrive on scene quickly while larger pumper trucks make their way to the fire ground.

Learn more about mini pumpers now.

Rescue Pumper

A red rescue pumper apparatus is parked outside in an industrial setting.A rescue pumper fire truck, as its name implies, is designed to offer both rescue and pumper truck capabilities. The ability to function efficiently in emergency response and structural fires means rescue pumpers can be the primary response vehicle for a fire department.

See some examples of rescue pumpers in our new delivery gallery.

Heavy-Duty Rescue Pumper

A red and grey Pierce rescue pumper is parked on an angle with blue sky and green wooded surroundings with an American flag in the background.

A Heavy-Duty Rescue Pumper (HDRP) is designed with reinforced strength and built for fire departments looking for a larger truck with more compartment space for equipment storage.

A heavy-duty rescue apparatus offers up to 500 cubic feet of storage space with 800-lb of carrying capacity in each compartment.

Learn more about rescue pumpers and advancements in rescue storage in this blog.

Pumper Tanker

A red and black pumper tanker fire truck is parked on asphalt with green trees in the background.

The mission of a pumper tanker can vary based on the needs of the fire department and as result, a pumper tanker can have different classifications from an NFPA standpoint.

A pumper tanker can be classified as a pumper fire apparatus and follow the NFPA guidelines for a pumper.

A pumper tanker or pumper tender can also be a fire truck classified as mobile water supply. Interestingly, modern regional vernacular dictates the name used: the term ‘tanker’ is used on the East coast of the United States, while ‘tender’ is used on the West Coast.

This pumper tanker is primarily used for transporting and delivering water to emergencies to be used by other vehicles or pumper equipment. A pumper tanker carries all the equipment needed for NFPA compliance, and the Pierce Pumper Tanker includes:

  • Water tank capacities up to 3,000 gallons.
  • A wide array of compartmentation options to store equipment.
  • Heavy-duty construction.

There are additional size and configuration options for pumper tankers. A wetside tanker includes a tank that is exposed to the outside with no high side compartments, while a dryside tanker has a tank that is not exposed, with a body constructed around it for added compartment storage. An elliptical tanker is a tanker truck with an elliptical-shaped water tank. The benefit of an elliptical tanker is that it offers a lower weight vehicle with easy maneuverability.

Learn more about tanker fire trucks here.

High-Flow Industrial Pumper

A red and black high flow industrial pumper fire truck sprays water from three nozzles with grass in the foreground and trees in the background. High-flow industrial pumper apparatus are typically designed to support industrial areas and private companies in the oil and petrochemical industry. High-flow pumpers feature large foam tanks and high water flow rates to support high capacity fire suppression.

The Pierce High-Flow Industrial Pumper offers water flow rates up to 10,000 gpm. Here are some additional facts about the high-flow industrial pumper:

  • It is designed with simple control panels to improve speed and efficiency in emergency response.
  • The truck features highly accurate flow meters providing flow data across a broad range of flow rates.
  • The apparatus includes a Darley 2ZSM water pump that delivers higher discharge flow rates and additional reach performance.
    • The fire truck can be built to include the Husky™ 450 foam system to provide expanded capabilities for the most extreme firefighting conditions. The foam pump has capacities up to 450 gallons per minute and is capable of supporting a 7,500 gpm discharge rate while using a 6-percent foam concentrate.

Learn more about industrial apparatus in our recent blog: Industrial Fire Truck Design, Selection and Use.

Ultra High-Rise Pumper

A red ultra high rise pumper fire truck is parked with large skyscrapers in the background.As urban buildings reach extraordinary heights, fire truck manufacturers have been challenged to design apparatus to support ultra high-rise fire suppression. Pierce met this challenge with the Ultra High-Rise Pumper (UHRP), specifically created to support urban environments with high-rise and skyscraper buildings.

With its first high-rise test UL certified, Pierce’s UHRP features the ability to pump fire

suppression agents up to 1378 feet (420 meters) in height.

The UHRP is built on Pierce custom chassis and uses a high horsepower engine. The apparatus includes a three-stage Waterous CMU/CGV fire pump that can pump up to 2000 gpm.

Learn more about the ultra high-rise pumper now.

Responder Pumper

A red responder pumper fire truck is parked on a grassy hill in a rural, country setting.A responder pumper is a smaller pumper fire truck designed to deliver value-driven configurations that won’t compromise performance.

With a smaller chassis and maneuverable wheelbase options, the responder pumper fire truck can include up to a 1,250-gallon water tank, room on board for EMS equipment storage and an extended cab with an optional third seat.

Learn more about responder pumper fire trucks now.

Pierce PUC™ Pumper

A red Pierce PUC fire truck is parked on an asphalt road with pine trees in the background.The Pierce Ultimate Configuration or PUC™ water pump fire truck design eliminates the pump house and brings the pump forward below the cab. In doing so, the PUC reduces overall vehicular space used for fire suppression and maximizes space for equipment and tool storage.

Some of the key benefits of the PUC design include:

  • Easier to use with the Sure-Shift pump engagement
  • Easier to stay safer by the operator not standing over the hose
  • Easier to service with easy access to the plumbing and boots on the ground pump service
  • Easier to maneuver with a shorter wheelbase than a traditional pump house
  • Easer to store with the jump off compartment on the right side of the vehicle.

The Next Generation PUC water pump and integrated pump transmission provide enhanced flow capabilities up to 2000 gpm and a rugged drive system.

Learn more about the PUC fire truck in our blog: Pierce Ultimate Configuration: 8 Key Benefits for Fire Departments.

BX™ Pumper

A yellow and black BX tanker drives on an asphalt road in an industrial area with train tracks and three smoke stacks in the background.For rural communities and wildland firefighting, Pierce also offers BX™ Pumper fire trucks, which include an aluminum body with high side spatter painted compartments on each side and a 1,250 gpm pump inside a 34" pumphouse. Standards include LED lights, roll-up doors, enclosed ladder storage, wrap-around tail lights and a full width hosebed.

Learn more about BX pumper trucks now.

Finding the right pumper apparatus to match your fire department’s needs can be a difficult task, but hopefully, this overview with examples provided you with several options to consider.

What design features of your pumper fire truck would you recommend to other fire departments? Let us know in the comments

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About Pierce Manufacturing
Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation [NYSE: OSK] business, is the leading North American manufacturer of custom fire apparatus. Products include custom and commercial pumpers, aerials, rescue trucks, wildland trucks, mini pumpers, and homeland security apparatus. In addition, Pierce designs its own foam systems and was the first company to introduce frontal airbags and the Side Roll Protection system to fire apparatus. To learn more about Pierce, visit

About Oshkosh Corporation

At Oshkosh (NYSE: OSK), we make innovative, mission-critical equipment to help everyday heroes advance communities around the world. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Oshkosh Corporation employs approximately 17,000 team members worldwide, all united behind a common purpose: to make a difference in people’s lives. Oshkosh products can be found in more than 150 countries under the brands of JLG®, Hinowa, Power Towers, Pierce®, MAXIMETAL, Oshkosh® Defense, McNeilus®, IMT®, Jerr-Dan®, Frontline™ Communications, Oshkosh® Airport Products, Oshkosh AeroTech™ and Pratt Miller. For more information, visit

®, ™ All brand names referred to in this news release are trademarks of Oshkosh Corporation or its subsidiary companies.

Forward Looking Statements

This news release contains statements that the Company believes to be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements regarding the Company’s future financial position, business strategy, targets, projected sales, costs, earnings, capital expenditures, debt levels and cash flows, and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. When used in this news release, words such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “should,” “project” or “plan” or the negative thereof or variations thereon or similar terminology are generally intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors, some of which are beyond the Company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These factors include the Company's ability to successfully integrate the AeroTech acquisition and to realize the anticipated benefits associated with the same; the risks associated with international operations and sales, including compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act;  the Company’s ability to comply with complex laws and regulations applicable to U.S. government contractors; cybersecurity risks and costs of defending against, mitigating and responding to data security threats and breaches impacting the Company; the Company’s ability to successfully identify, complete and integrate other acquisitions and to realize the anticipated benefits associated with the same; and risks related to the Company’s ability to successfully execute on its strategic road map and meet its long-term financial goals. Additional information concerning these and other factors is contained in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this news release. The Company assumes no obligation, and disclaims any obligation, to update information contained in this news release. Investors should be aware that the Company may not update such information until the Company’s next quarterly earnings conference call, if at all.

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