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November 22, 2018 49 mins

Who doesn't love fire engines? We certainly do. So much that we geeked out on this one in a big way. Enjoy!

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you Should Know from how Stuff Works
dot Com. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. Beep beep.
I'm Josh Clark. There's Charles w Fire Chief Bryant, and
there's Jerry Fired Commissioner Rolling. I'm just a Class one firefighter.

(00:25):
But that's okay, because this is stuff you should know.
The fire Truck Edition, I should say, I think every
time we say fire truck, we should say fire twalk
okay for the whole episode, because that's about the level
of engagement that everyone can expect from us this episode,
because I love fire trucks, Like my inner three year

(00:48):
role is like, yes, let's do this and give me
like a Fisher Price drum to bang on while we're
talking about it could be one of those xylophones. And
if you hear me sighing repeatedly, just to give you context,
it's elect and day and I'm just in a bad movie.
Don't get political, Chuck, I'm not. I'm just oh hard.

(01:09):
What was it I said? I said, I'm already dreading
my hangover that I'm gonna have tomorrow and I haven't.
I was like, I'm not going to drink for a
few days. Proceeding Tuesday. Oh you're saving your liver up. Yeah,
just because man, let's do let's talk about fire trucks.
They're happy. Let's have you been on our our fire truck. Yeah,

(01:29):
our company fire truck. It's the way back machine is
now he tricked out fire truck. Uh. Yes. And you
know what's funny to bring this full circle, we have
in one of our little quiet rooms. We have little
quiet rooms you can go like take a phone call sometimes. Um.
And we have one of our old school illustrations that

(01:52):
we used to blow those up and frame them a truck. Yeah,
the old house stuff works website, Dempsey and it looks great.
And so I was on the phone this morning. I
got up early to go vote Emily. Emily texted me, um, which,
by the way, is I mean, I got it out
of the way, but I waited in a longer line

(02:12):
than you know, that first rush. It's a longer line
than at like nine fifteen. Emily was like, yeah, so
I guess I kind of had to I go vote.
Emily calls me and says that my daughter is upset
because she thinks I went to vote, and she's upset

(02:33):
because I didn't take her sailing, so she's crying. Emily's like,
I don't know what to do. Can you get on
FaceTime at least and show her that your work. I
was like, yeah, and not sailing, and they're like, let
me put on my captain's head just a message. I
thought about that. So I go in the quiet room,
get on FaceTime, and in the background of FaceTime, is
that fire twuck? And that immediately took over the conversation

(02:57):
because she was like fire truck and all kids love
fire trucks. Jerry's just talking about her her daughter loves
fire trucks, and so in a weird way, Uh, it
all just sort of came around. I want to get
in on this too. Mama loves fire trucks as well.
Most dogs hate fire trucks. Oh she loves them. Man,
My dogs howl at the moon. Oh yeah, doesn't do that. Really.

(03:20):
Sirens don't. Yeah. I does not big on thunder. Yeah,
my dogs don't mind thunder, but they hate their sirens.
Let's just hit there. Their hearing just right, I guess,
or maybe they're singing songs of love. Yeah, They're like
I didn't I've never asked, to be honest, but they
howl at sirens. So I want to settle something right

(03:43):
out of the gate that I never understood. You've heard
of a fire truck, you've heard of a fire engine.
You've probably heard somebody point to a fire truck and go,
there's a fire truck, and then somebody else points to
that same fire truck and says, there's a fire engine. Yes,
it's interchange bowl. That's actually wrong. There is a difference

(04:03):
between a fire truck and a fire engine. And the
difference is yeah, but still in the practical world of
just people and kids, largely semantical, but yeah, there is
a difference. So people and kids who are wrong, Well,
let me let me say this. We will explain to
you the difference, and then it's up to you if

(04:23):
you want to go around to people and say that's
a fire truck not a fire engine. Actually, we should
advise you now not to do that. Don't do it,
but just hold that knowledge in your in your brain. Sure,
So what's the deaf uh just saying it to yourself
is if that's a big difference, Well, one actually holds
water and that the main diff Yeah, if you take
away the word fire right from fire truck and fire engine.

(04:47):
You've got an engine and a truck, and if you
understand the origin of fire engines, it will make total sense.
Fire engines were originally just a water pump used to
douse water on a fire. Wasn't on a truck, wasn't
on wheels. It was on a sled that people dragged
from one place to another in the seventeenth and eighteen

(05:07):
centuries in Europe. In America, it was an engine for
pumping water. Right, yes, and if today, if you are
appropriately using the word fire engine, what you're talking about
is a vehicle with four wheels. That is basically the
point wheels. It's to five wheels, four and a half.
You got a one in the center. Is to is

(05:28):
to move a giant amount of water and pump and
some hoses to a fire to douse water on the fire.
Same thing as it was in the sixteen eighties, it
is today. It's just updated to make it a lot
more easy to get it from point A to point B. Right,
that's a fire engine. What's a fire truck. Well, a
fire truck doesn't have that water tank full of water, right,

(05:52):
it has like ladders firefighters. Um. It can even be
hooked up to a hydrant. Yeah, but it's it doesn't
like if you live that out in the sticks and
you're your little farmhouses on fire, which is super sad.
But in other words, if you don't live near a
fire hydrant, you can still get that fire put out
if you have a fire engine nearby. Right, And usually

(06:13):
if there's like a structure fire something, the first truck
that shows up is going to be the fire engine.
They're they're gonna say, we need to get the water
and usually the foam out there and start spraying this
thing down. And a fire truck may not even show up,
depending on how the fire engine does controlling the fire
with the water or but they show because they're kind

(06:34):
of just poured any right, they are born. They're like,
we've cooked chili five times today. I'm so tired of chili. Um.
But the fire truck, if it does show up, it'll
show up with a bunch of firefighters who probably aren't
gonna mess with any hoses. They're gonna run in there
and rescue people. They're going to collapse holes into the
roof to get the water, and they're they're they're like

(06:55):
assisting the people with the hoses and we'll get much
more into depth of out this, but let's let's talk
about the history of fire engines a little bit. You're
ready for that, yeah, because, like you said, they were
pulled by people, uh, and that you know the downside
of that. There are many downsides of that, but one
of the biggest ones is once they get to the
actual place where they need it, they're tired, Yeah, pulling

(07:16):
like a giant metal tank of water with a pump
attached to it. So they're like, we're here, but we
can we're not very good uh for work right now
we're here, We're tired. Eventually they started to use horses,
but again, you know, these things were heavy, so even
horses wore out, you know, after you know, six or

(07:38):
seven blocks. These horses were like, now I'm tired. The
people would be like, are you tired, horse, and the
horse would just stomp once. Yeah, you know, so that
that helps all problems. But it was really the advent
of the you know, not the fire engine, but the
car motor. Well yeah, first it was the steam truck

(08:00):
exely um. But the early firefighters are like, those things
blow up and they're not very reliable, so it actually
didn't catch on very Well, it wasn't until like the
motor powered vehicle, like a diesel powered motor engine, a
combustion engine. That's what I'm looking for. Yeah, and I
think about the nineteen tens when fire engine started carrying
those or being moved around on those, that's when it

(08:22):
really started. And then for a little while until like
the twenties or thirties, steam and horse drawn firefighting equipment
to the fire trucks, whereas like the fire engine moving
this heavy, huge amount of water, that was a combustion
engine that did that. Yeah, and then uh, it says
here in nineteen eleven, those mac trucks started pumping out

(08:44):
engines and motorized vehicles. That really changed things. Uh. And then,
of course, if you listen to our Skyscraper's podcast the
nirties building building started getting taller and taller, and or
our Hotel fires podcasts, and then that became a problem.
They're like, we just figured out how to get here quickly,
and now you're building these tall buildings that catch on fire.

(09:06):
So that's when these ladder ladder technology started. You know,
they were kind of forced to ramp up their their
game in terms of getting people higher and higher up. Yeah.
So when you when you had like horses finally pulling stuff, um,
you still had tired firefighters who had to run to
the fire. So they put on sideboards, and then that

(09:30):
just made it harder for the horses. So finally somebody said,
let's just separate these two things. Let's come up with
fire trucks and fire engines, and the fire trucks are
going to move the firefighters to the fire so they
won't be tired. And then somebody said, well, now we
have skyscrapers, so now we need a different kind of truck,
the ladder truck. So technically, and from what I can tell,
you're going to find components of all these and I

(09:52):
think all of the different kinds of fire. Let's just
calm fire trucks, okay, Um, but there are also specialized chucks,
Chucks that specialize in delivering water, chuck that specialized in
delivering equipment, and and then chucks that specialize in ladders. Yes, okay, yes,
so that's kind of you can have it all in

(10:14):
one truck, or you can have it broken out into
three specialized trucks. Yeah, and in what kind of trucks
you have in your local municipality or county depends on
a lot of things, how well funded, how many people
live there, how rural it is, or how jam packed
it is. UM And it's really, I mean, it's a

(10:34):
science in itself in a city like New York to
make sure you're covered fully, you know, like every nook
and cranny of New York City is covered. What was
that UM early like computer civilization simulation called I think
it was called like civilization or something like that. That
was it a game? Yeah? I don't know, but there

(10:54):
was a thing where like fires would break out in
your town and if you didn't think about that, did you?
If you write so, you had to send out the
fire brigade, and if you just neglected it, then all
of a sudden, the area around it would fall into
ruin and then they'd be like discontent among the population.
And like, man, I was having fun building a shopping mall,
and now I have to deal with this burned out building. Right. UM.

(11:15):
I can't remember it was called I'm sure we're going
to hear it wasn't the SIMS, was it. It was?
It was much less sophisticated than the SIMS, but very
engrossing for sure. I've never played one of those. I
think that was actually the slogan the quote on the box.
Much less sophisticated than SIMS, but very engrossing. Nonetheless, Uh
so with World War two or post World War two

(11:35):
is when you got these buckets? Um, I don't think
we mentioned the bucket brigade. You know, you've heard that term.
That was pre fire engine and that's when they, you know,
had long lines of men filling up buckets of water
and handing them to the guy next to you. That's
how they fall fire. Pretty amazing that I saw. I
just want to say, real quick, I saw, I think
on Twitter there was a bookstore and I believe the

(11:57):
UK that moved locas down like down the road thanks
to basically a bucket brigade of volunteers who just handed
it book by book. Then they charged the guy a
book burning brigade. I think I thought you were a
volunteering So post World War two is when we got
what we know as cherry pickers. Um, if you've ever

(12:19):
seen these buckets on an extended arm, like maybe someone
repairing the phone line or the cable guy or whatever,
it's the same thing. It's um a much safer way
to rescue someone than throwing them over your shoulder at
the top of the ladder, which they'll still do. Yeah,
there's ladders that will extend you up and buddy, you're
hanging on to the top of the ladder. Man. But

(12:40):
if you're in a bucket, no, I can't because they
have ladders that go up you know, like fifteen stories.
There's a hundred that's a fifteen story building. Just standing
on the top of the ladder, I would literally lose
my mind. Yeah, you're not cut out to be that guy. No,
I'm not. Um a bucket, I would just crawled down

(13:00):
in the bottom of and be like give me to
have and just scream that the whole time. But I
don't think I would lose my mind. I just you know,
lose my s well. But most of those buckets are
open sided anyway, so you still and they have railings
and stuff. But no, it doesn't matter. I've been in
one of those on a film set, like I've been
pretty high up in a cherry picker um, and it's yeah,

(13:23):
I mean there, I don't have the big heights thing.
But I was still kind of like, now, if this
isn't something happened, that would be in bad shape. I
imagine if you actually were also afraid of heights, if
you had like the rational fear and then the irrational
fear combined. But yes, some of them do have this
with the ladder. They the ladder will go up and
then it's um usually on a turntable, which is basically

(13:46):
a gear that moves it left and right, but with
one of those cherry pickers. Usually it's an arm that
has like at least one or two joints in it,
so you can kind of move that thing all over
like one of those robot arms. Yeah, you got litt
joystick yeah, uh, and you're it's just like playing a
video game. It's like a rock on socker robot, but
with a fire But the nineteen sixties is where we

(14:08):
really sort of got to where we are now with
the quote unquote modern fire engine. Um, and since then
it's just gotten even better. Yeah, they're not all red. Yeah.
If you don't have a red fire engine, though, it's like,
what are you doing those white ones do you? Yeah,
that's kind of cool. I've seen communists to me, or

(14:30):
the yellow ones? What is that? Uh? Yeah, I've seen
yellow ones. I think I have to say, Charles, when
I was researching this article, there is um no more
guarantee of local press coverage than a city buying a
new fire truck. I cannot tell you how many entries

(14:51):
there are for different towns around the country. Look what
we got the fire department debuts new fire truck. Yeah,
they're all so shiny all the rome. They're like, look
at how much it costs because it's tax payer owned. Yeah,
it's pretty cool. I think it's cute. I think we should.
I mean, I would love to do another follow up
at some point on like firehouses, because the whole thing.

(15:15):
I mean, there's something about being a kid. You're just
enthralled by it because you walk by. You know, there's
one right there in oak Hurst behind where all the
restaurants are, so people with kids are constantly walking by
this thing, and the doors always open, and the firefighters
are always sitting around, like I mean, obviously unless they're
on an active fire. There there, they look like they're

(15:38):
just enjoying each other, and they always smile and white
the kids in and to take a look, and it
just it's such a cool job. Come on and have
some chili. I love it is there a cooler job
where you're like putting your life on the line, but
you're still you know, so just like I've been on
military basis, those those people aren't just hang military basis

(16:00):
can chili and you're back back. Yeah, I know, but
you don't want that. Let's just to keep you a
long sea rations something joyful about that chili? And uh,
I don't know. I think you make a good point.
Do you want to take a break? All right, let's
take a break and we'll talk about what's on these
amazing trucks? Okay, everybody, let's get down to it. What's

(16:48):
on fire? Let's start with the fire engine? This how
stuff works article? The way was it dry? It was trying. Um,
there was a lot of what's it called when you conflate?
I guess a lot of conflation where basically they make
it sound like it's all just on one truck. And
I guess it was because I think they made a

(17:09):
visit to a North Carolina fire department to look at
their truck and then base the entire article on that.
But the writer it was kind of funny, It's like,
and then there was this thing, and then there was
this thing and this thing was cool. And then they
had a thing here and they let me sit and
pull the run the sirens. Uh. But you know, again,
this is not they're all shapes and sizes. I think

(17:32):
this is sort of just a standard. When you see
a standard fire engine, you can count on a lot
of this stuff being on it. Is that okay? Yeah,
so uh, one thing that you're gonna you're gonna have
on an engine is a big tank of water. Is
an engine mostly right, But you also have the ability
and this is really neat if there's a lake nearby

(17:54):
or a swimming pool even or obviously fire hydrants are
are handy. Um, you can suck water from those things
and use it. But it's it doesn't just go straight
into a hose. Um. It runs through the truck and
then through the I mean there are hoses that attached
to this stuff or suck it out. But but you're

(18:14):
running it through the central engine. Um, so you can
regulate all that stuff. Right. And like an engine has
three components, Like every fire engine has at least three components.
A tank filled with water that it transports to the fire,
A pump that pressurizes that water from being pumped out
and then lines or hoses that that they'll pumped out

(18:35):
water shoots from onto the fire. So many hoses and
a lot of different hoses. This article spelled out every
single one of them. Yeah, And what I gathered to
was they want options, options, options, so they can have
speed speed speed, so hoses like they'll they'll have the big, huge,

(18:56):
you know, five footer, but then in compartments they'll have
footers and fifty footers because they just want to be
able to get water the fastest possible way. And that's
not all the times with the longest hose. Yeah, and
it's also not necessarily uh, the hose with the widest
diameter that's the best for the job, right right, Um,

(19:16):
it could be a smaller fire so you don't need
quite as much water. So there there is a lot
of um, a lot of split second decision, but decisions
in in hose selection basically, and from what I gather,
the fire captain is telling the crew like, we're probably
gonna need these hoses. You take this hose, you take
that hose, um ready break kind of thing on the

(19:37):
way to the fire. So it's not like the individual
firefighters are necessarily deciding for themselves, although I could be wrong.
I don't know. I'm totally speaking out of turn, but
just cobbling together separate facts. That's the impression I have. Yeah,
I think you're right. I think I mean, obviously, when
they get there, there's an assessment period that's super fast

(19:59):
on the way A. I think you're right. I think
they have an idea because they've been radioed. We've got
a you know, an apartment building that's four stories in
this many units, and the fire is largely on the
top floors. So on the way, the captain who sits
in the passenger seat is radio ing too the firefighters
in what's called the jump seat area, which is that

(20:21):
little area behind which carries like what six people four
to four to six to eight people in a fire
engine from what I see. So they're radioing back and saying,
all right, when we hit the ground, we're gonna need
three one footers. And they're different ports on the you know,
sides or the back or the top of the fire engine.
It's not just like, well there's only one area where

(20:42):
we can get this water. Uh Again, they just want
all sorts of options so when they get there, they
can kind of hit the ground running, right, So they
literally hit the ground running when they get there. The
um driver the House of Works article made it sound
like the driver is invariably the pump up rader. I
don't know that that's true or not, but there is

(21:03):
somebody who's designated the motor pump operator, the MPO, and
they look at you, you know, uh, they hop out
and they jump up onto the truck and they start
the pump. And the first thing that happens when that
pump starts um. At the very least, this housetuf Works

(21:23):
article had a truck that had an impeller water pump
on it, and it uses centrifugal force like it's rotors
like a turbine, basically spinning really fast, and when water
hits it, it slings it outside and in doing so,
the centrifugal force applied to it creates pressure, so it
pressurizes the water and they open the valve in the

(21:44):
tank because remember they've got maybe a thousand gallons of water, right,
it's a ton of water. Um. They and they turned
the pump on and they open the valve that dumps
the tank, the water from the tank onto the pump.
So that's being pressure and then the pump sends it
out to the hoses. And the reason that they do
this is they want to be able to start dousing

(22:07):
this flame, this fire with water immediately. But at the
same time they're also looking around for the fire hydrant
to connect to for like you said, a pond to drain,
to drain from a swimming pool nearby. They can drain
your swimming pool if they need to to turn what
are you gonna do get that out of my pool?
I don't like that neighbor that much, um. But they're
looking for other sources of water, and they can actually

(22:29):
set up something called a drop tank, which is basically
a collapsible portable pool above ground pool. Is that what
that is? Yes? Okay, that was a little confusing. It
was a little confusing, um, But yeah, it's just something
that just is semi rigid that you stand up and
other fire trucks can come in from other areas and
dump their tanks into the pool, and then you've got

(22:52):
the main fire truck drawing water out of it. So
it's like a temporary holding facility. But you're looking for
another source of water. Is if you have a thousand
gallon tank and you're using one of them, the hose
lines that's spewing out a thousand gallons a minute. You
have one minute of water. Do the math. You need
a lot more than that. So, um, that's just basically

(23:14):
to get things started while the other firefighters on the
engine hop off and start connecting to another source of water,
whether it's a fire hydrant or a pond or swimming pool. Yeah,
I want to I would like to hear from some
fire fighters about use of the onboard water versus drawn water.

(23:35):
But I have a feeling you're probably right, is that
that's just for the immediate Like while you're getting hooked
up to the hydrant, we're gonna go ahead and and
douse this thing. Yeah. Time is of the essence. Time
is of the essence, of course. Um, So all these lines,
it's really kind of beautiful in its simplicity. These lines
are color coded, so the hoses and the lines all

(23:58):
have color, so the purse and up there doesn't have
to like you know, again, with time being of the essence,
it's very simple. Which, uh, because they're in control up
there on that board of which hoses are being enacted
at any given time, and there are you know, their
relief valves built in, so if you shut off one

(24:18):
one hose, the other one doesn't go. Whoa yeah, all
of a sudden, it's all the waters going to that
one turns into like a cartoon fire hose, you know,
like eight people. It's like that. What was that? Uh?
Oh Roxanne the Steve Martin movie. Yeah, did that happened
to that? Yeah? That was sort of the updated version
of Cyrano diverge diversion diversia irac Oh. I'm familiar, no,

(24:40):
but I couldn't pronounce it right. It wasn't that all right.
But they were firefighters, But did they end up like
being There were some funny scenes where Steve Martin's like
on the telephone and in the background at a at
a practice fire like zane nous is going on in
the background. I don't remember that at all. A good movie.

(25:01):
Block that out the whole movie, at least that part. Uh,
all right, So that's that's what's going on with the water. Um.
There's also foam like you were talking about. Uh, these
days this this foam. Uh, fire retardants do a great
job of Sometimes they'll spray it on to make sure
something doesn't catch on fire. I don't get the picture

(25:24):
that it's always to put out a fire, is that right?
I think they use phone to make sure stuff doesn't reignite. Yeah,
depending on the type of foam, or depending on the
type of fire, you'll use a different type of foam,
like one prevents. Class A I think is to prevent reignition,
right of like maybe like a hot wood fire. Maybe

(25:44):
it says here Class B is more for car fires
or where if there's like gasoline that could you know, ignite. Yeah,
and I was looking into very I think actually foam
deserves its own podcast because apparently it's like fire for
super Tixic and like routinely destroys water supplies when it

(26:04):
gets in it. But I also saw that they make
some from proteins, which is, you know, it's natural, so
I'm sure it's fine. You can probably eat it after
a fire or something. What does that mean? Is it
like we turned a cow into foam? Probably that's what
glues from. Oh in jello? Yeah, jellouh? Wait? Did we

(26:31):
I think we did? No? That was lego? No, dude,
I think we did remember jello molds? Did we? Yes? Oh?
Good lord? Oh it was a good one. If I
remember correctly, I have no memory of that. I really
believe that we did an episode on Jello, all right,
and I think it was good. See this is why
when people ask us on stage, like what was your

(26:51):
favorite episode, it's like I say Disco every single time
because it's the only one I can remember routine ley.
But there's so many, literally hundreds of episodes that I
love that we've done, which makes me feel very proud
of our work. You know, the fact that we don't
look back on it and say, like, you know, just
jackhammers basically, um that I think it's great. I agree

(27:16):
not to pat ourselves on the back or break our
arms doing so. I'm just saying I'm kind of proud
of what we've done over the last decade. Agreed. Congratulations, congratulations?
Um So the hostes, Yeah, yeah, I forgot that. She
just gave you a little She's got a salad she's eating.
She's not even paying attention. Um So, hoses are called blinds,

(27:39):
I think on the job, um like on firefighters don't
calm hoses now they call them line. Yeah, yeah, you're
a chump if you call it a hos Hey, what
kind of hoses that you'll get laughed out of fire.
So cross lay hoses are hoses. Um well, I think
that you are laid on the ground, is that right?

(27:59):
I believe that they are coiled up, laying over one another,
and they're easy to get to on the side of
the truck. You can just grab the end of it
and run. And they may even be pre connected. There's
a type of hose that's it's pretty appropriately named pre preconnect.
It's already connected. So if you're the pump operator and
you see one of your guys running with the preconnect three,

(28:22):
you turn on Indigo Lever three, that's right, maybe yellow four,
whatever it is, and now all of a sudden they've
got water coming through it. Yeah, they have booster lines.
I mean again, we're not going to go through all
these different lines, but it's just very easy to say.
They all vary in diameter and link depending on what
your needs are. Depending on the diameter, um that that

(28:46):
will that will determine how much water can come through
at a time. And some of them are up to
a thousand gallons a minute. But again, that's your whole
tank in a minute. And I was like, gosh, that's
so fast. That's that must be like Olympic pool in
in an hour or something. No, it's eleven hours. So
if you're a firefighter and you are putting out a

(29:07):
fire next to an Olympic sized pool, you're like jack, yeah,
ye swimmers are bummed. Though, Yeah, it would take to
fill in those things up. Uh, well, it depends on
what kind of hose. I'm sorry line right. Uh. The
real fun part though, like if every child an adult alike,

(29:28):
um always wants to look at that deluge gun and
that is the thing that is not a hose, but
it is the thing that sits atop of the fire
engine that is like uh, sort of the equivalent of
the the Gatlin gun on top of the tank in warfare.
That you can just point that thing and water is
being sucked from the the hydrant straight through. So it's

(29:52):
regulated an into that deluge gun and just a massive,
massive amounts of water can go really really high and
far up. It's kind of that simple, it is, And
I imagine that's you know, I don't know if everyone
I am curious to hear from firefighters, like if you
have a permanent designation or if it's a tiered thing,
like you work your way up to deluge gun or

(30:14):
if that's the lowest job, because it is, because it's
because you're just there on the truck, and maybe the
more experienced firefighters are on that ladder going into the building,
or if they just take turns or drop straws, like
that's what. I don't know. I don't know either, but
I would guess that if you're manning the daily or
human ng the deluge gun, you are pretty experienced because

(30:36):
you've got basically the whole truck's about the water at
your fingertips or whatever water you know, all the water
in the world. Sure connected, But if you haven't connected
up yet, and they're like, start with the deluge gun,
which from what I understand, would be something that they
would do because use the day luge gun to kind
of dampen down the fire that initial you can get
closer to it with the lines, you know, and the personnel.

(30:59):
So yeah, it might be like the first thing you
hit a fire with the pen. So maybe the most
experienced firefighter because if you put the rookie back there,
they're like, you're that building is not even on fire
and you just in your pointing the wrong way Jackson,
because they go by last name. I think somebody's there's
got to be a firefire named Jackson, firefire Jackson the rookie.

(31:23):
Uh again. More hoses. They have hoses called curb jumpers
because they're on the curb. They have hoses that that
are just carried up like that you can put over
your shoulder. It's called a hose pack. It's like all
bundled together, so you might carry that on your shoulder

(31:44):
up the ladder in order to once you get in there,
you're like, I need another fifty ft hose. Man, I'm
inside and you've got one slung over your shoulder, bundled together,
ready to go. They also have hoses that will run
up ladders too, so there's a line that will run
alongside the are usually a five inch diameter line, which
I think five I d um. I think pumps two

(32:08):
and fifty gallons a minute. It's a significant um, that's all.
I mean. That's a lot of water. But they do
that so that, if you know, you can shoot water
down onto a fire, which can be helpful for like
a roof fire or something like that. And then they
also have a lot of different nozzles too. You know,
a different nozzle does different jobs, like, um, if you

(32:30):
have a piercing nozzle, I hadn't heard about one of these.
They sound extremely dangerous. It can shoot right through walls
and I'm guessing like drywall walls, probably not a brick wall,
but who knows. I'm sure it could shoot right through
a window. But if you have um a fire in
another room and you can't get to it, you just
use one of those piercing nozzles and it shoots right

(32:51):
through the wall. You know what I call that? If
I was a fire person a master blaster. To get
the master blaster up here, you gotta shoot through some
sheet rock. Wasn't that the guy with the small guy, yeah,
controlling the bigger guy. And beyond the Thunderdome, right, that
was the only one they appeared in, wasn't it. You

(33:11):
just nailed all of that. Thank you. I didn't spoiled
beyond the Yeah, except you have to say it like
Tina Turner. You have to say massa blasta. I can't
improve on what you just did. Uh. And then there's
the ladders. Of course, like you said, some of these
bad boys can go like a hundred and fifty feet

(33:32):
in the air via hydraulics, which is totally frightening. If
you're going that high up, the truck is going to
have what are called out riggers, and those are basically
just these huge, um heavy metal legs that come out
from the side of the truck and land on the ground.

(33:53):
To really stabilize that truck, they expanded center of gravity
so it doesn't tip. Yeah, but there's so it's so
much pressure and force. They actually have to put down
pads in between the out rigger and the ground so
that doesn't just go right through the ass crushed the
concrete sidewalk. Ye, it's pretty pretty cool. Um, this is
all cool. Yeah, it's so funny how the little kid

(34:15):
comes out when you start talking about this stuff. Just
like big heavy things. You want to take an ad break.
I need to settle down. Yeah, we need to put
our inner five year olds in time out. Okay, we're back.

(34:58):
Our inner five year olds are being very quiet and
and they're behaving. Yes, So we've got the fire engine done,
fire or ladder truck done basically right, that ladder is
telescoped up, you got the outriggers in place. It's a
four alarmed fire and things are going well. So um,

(35:19):
you're probably going to see other fire trucks show up. Yes,
this is the classic literal version of the fire truck,
which is basically a UM human and equipment transporter. That's
what it's for. Yeah. And you know if you look
at a fire truck and they've got all those compartments
running along the sides, they are all full of goodies, um,

(35:42):
all kinds of fun stuff. You're talking about the nozzles.
Of course, there's something called a barrel strainer. So if
you have to throw, uh, if you have to suck
water out of a lake, um, you don't want to
suck up fish through there. While that would be kind
of funny looking, it would be mean. It would be
super mean. Have you ever seen video they salmon ladder?
Now I've seen that. Yeah, that's pretty amazing. Fish ladders. Um,

(36:05):
but when they when they it's not seed of stock,
when they stock a lake. Oh yeah, sometimes they do
it from airplanes. And have you seen the one of
the close up of the fish just going like I
have not? It's it's something to see. It's either animal
abuse or it's a wild ride that the fish is like, Man,
that's cool. I think it's both. Yeah, and now I'm

(36:25):
in a big new home and then someone will catch
me by putting a hook through my mouth, right, and
they're like, you'll never really far guard here. Emily gets
so sad when she sees fisher fisher people. Yeah, yeah,
she just can't help. But think of the fish, even
catching release. Uh yeah, and I've said that. It's like,
what about catching and leash? She's like, what would you

(36:46):
want someone to hook you, pull you out of the water,
and then just remove the hook and throw you back in.
She makes a good point. She does what else? There's
all sorts of of tools to like bust through walls
and pull down ceilings. Yeah, well that's so okay. Let's
just let's put this out there. If you show up
on a fire engine, your job is to run lines.
You're running the pump. You're the captain being like do this,

(37:08):
do that? Somebody light my cigar, that kind of thing.
If you show up on a ladder truck, you're probably
working a ladder. Um. If you show up on a
fire truck, you are there to work the fire. You're
there to rescue people inside the fire. Same with the
ladder truck, probably too. Um, you're there to manage the fire.
You're tracking it to see if it's moving from one

(37:30):
place to another or if it's starting to die down.
You're in there pulling down sheet rock with a pike
pole yeah, um, if you're pulling it from the ceiling
or a Halligen tool. Yeah, if you're pulling the walls down,
that maybe Helligan actually probably sounds irish, right um, which,
by the way, I want to say, Rescue Me is

(37:50):
probably the greatest firefire related TV show of all time.
I've never seen it. The Dennis Leary Show. Oh it
was really good. Really, yeah, it was bonkers, but it
was very good, very and Dennis Leary does a great job.
I'm surprised you watched that. It just doesn't seem like
a Josh show. Yeah. I was into it for a
while that and then the shield too interesting. Yeah all right,

(38:14):
you know me that much better now, So, uh, it
probably is. The Halligan tool is my point. But you're
in there, if you're a firefighter who showed up on
a fire truck, you're messing with the fire to make
it easier for the line operators to get water onto
the fire where it's needed, right, Yes, exactly. Depending on

(38:36):
how advanced your truck or how much dough your municipality has.
You might have the jaws of life on your truck,
which I thought about. I even looked at that article
to see if that was worth doing one on. Well, uh,
it may just be thirty minutes of us talking about
how the fact that it is a super high powerful,
hydraulic powered uh can opener. Okay, so I think the

(39:00):
sounding very good. It might have been like jackhammers. Okay, no,
we'll steer clear that. Yeah, but the jaws of life
everyone knows is that super high powered hydraulic can opener
that can cut someone out of a car, which is great. Uh.
Exhaust fans never really thought about that, but um, there
are a couple of types of fans uh. And exhaust
fan is when you would put in an entry way

(39:22):
to suck out smoke. They also have positive pressure fans
to blow air through and out the other side. And
I imagine they can work in concert with one another
depending on their placement. Do you remember Greg who was
an illustrator for a while too. It's like illustrator day
that worked with us. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he had a
house fire and he said, like his house is generally fine,

(39:44):
but the insurance companies considering totaling his house just because
of the smoke damage. Yeah, like it just gets everywhere forever. Yeah,
and you can't do anything about it. It's actually really
not good for you, yeah, to to like live with
that as it's dissipating for years and years and years.
You know, I never really thought about that. You always think, like,

(40:05):
you know, the structures damaged and compromise, but right, the
structure can be intact and the smoke can can total
a house. I when I worked as a p A,
I did an errand one time for a very uh
not wealthy, but pretty rich producer to his condo in
Santa Monica, which had to have caused like a couple

(40:26):
of million bucks. And I walked in by myself. He
wasn't there gaming the keys, and it was the stinkiest.
He was a smoke cigarette smoker, and he had been
smoking in that place with the window shut for years.
And this two million dollar sweet ocean view condo was
the most discuss It smelled like a bar, like the

(40:48):
next morning was ruined, ruined, And I just can't imagine, like,
I mean, do you desensitive used used to smoke? It
doesn't matter was he not notice it or just not care? No,
he doesn't notice it. Interesting, he has not knows it.
Maybe if he comes back from a vacation or something,
you might be like, oh it smells a little like
vaguely smokey. I better get it going again or something. Man,

(41:09):
it was so stale and gross man like, yeah, like
for any if he wants to sell it, you would
have to sell it to a smoker, because any savvy
person who understands the health risks of that is like this,
this place is done. You would have to pull up
the floors, pull out the wall um, pull out the ceiling,
just strip it to its bones. Yeah, I'm scratch remember

(41:32):
thinking man and he had a balcony. It's like it's
so lazy. Uh. What else do they have? Bolt cutter, sledgehammers, chainsaws,
small ladders? You know you see him running with a
ladder over their shoulder like a ten or twelve footer.
They still have those little guys. Uh, And it's all
very useful. They basically have everything. A lot of them

(41:53):
have E M. S equipment or repelling rope. It's just
like everything you can think of. Yeah, basically to save lives.
That's why you'll see like a fire truck at the
scene of like a heart attack or something like that,
because the ambulance might actually not have everything they need
for a medical emergency, so they'll send the fire truck out,

(42:14):
which seems like a colossal waste of resources and money.
But I think I think something you said earlier might
explain it a little bit. They're a little bit bored.
Maybe they're like, oh, hard attack, let's go. I'm sure
it's nothing like that. Okay. What what my hope is
from the show that we'll hear from firefighters that are like,
you guys got kind of most of it right, and

(42:34):
thanks for shining a light on us. It's the best
we can hope for. Uh have you heard of did
you look up these tiller trucks? You know that, like
the coolest job is to drive the back of that thing. Yeah,
those are called tiller trucks and tiller drivers, uh drive them.

(42:55):
And it's a little cockpit, one person cockpit. I got
this from Hot Odd magazine. And you have to, of course,
take a certification test to make sure you can drive it.
And as everyone knows, or maybe you may not know this,
but the whole trick to those things. Is you gotta
steer the You gotta get into your head that you
steer opposite. So when you're making a right hand turn

(43:17):
up front, um, you've got to turn that wheel left.
I could not do this. They don't have that kind
of coordination. It would be tough. Huh yeah, as you
do it, yeah, I mean I think you get used
to it if that's your job, Like you wouldn't want
to be like right again. But when you're driving your car,
you just crashing this stuff all the time. Maybe it
like you gotta be able to flick that switch in

(43:38):
your head because you know, obviously if they're turning right,
you're turning that back wheel left. It makes it much
more maneuverable. And apparently they are as long as they
are if you've got an experience uh tiller person back there,
they are really super maneuverable on city street. Well that's
why they exist. Yeah, It's like it's way easier to
get a very long truck that's cut into two. They

(44:00):
can take tight corners rather than one long truck that's
one you know, one long length of truck. Yeah, that's
that's the whole reason they're there. I never understood that
until like yesterday. Yeah, and apparently they really work well,
um in in cities especially. Uh. And here's a couple
of little tricks that I never thought about. There's a
light on a rod at the on top of the

(44:22):
front cab and as that's your that's there for the
tiller driver tiller steerer to look at as their center point.
Like that's how they center their wheels. And if they
make a turn, they count because you know, you gotta
straighten back out afterward. They count like two and a
half rotations on the wheel for this turn, so two
and a half back in the other direction to get

(44:44):
straight again. I'm you're actually making me anxious right now.
I'm imagining myself having to do this like on the
way to a fire on a busy city street. Well,
they're usually apparently the first person of the ladder two,
So that is not the job for you, tiller driver
and lader guy. I quit. Yeah. Uh. And it's funny
they they interviewed and and took a like a coarse

(45:06):
test the hot rod author and they asked, so you're like, well,
what happens if if you turn it the wrong way?
And they're like, well, then you're on the curb and
you're knocking out cars and people. They're like, it's not good. Um,
pretty cool though, Yeah, I think they said the Here

(45:26):
here's another stat the operating angle for a ladder. Normal
operating angles about six seventy degrees. And the biggest hassle
of the ladders is uh wiring. Oh I could I
ail bet anything about that? You don't want to get
it tangled up? And no? No, good, very interesting. Don't

(45:47):
got anything else. I'm fired twalks. No, I want to
try out tiller truck. I wonder if they let civilians
like us just like get out in a big, close
down parking lot. It probably depends on, um, the level
of corruption of the mayor of the town that the
fire truck lives in. Well, they let the hot Rod
magazine guy do it. Oh he's a journal Yeah that's
what I'm saying. Like they cooked it up for like

(46:09):
we could probably cook up a reason. Right. Yeah, we'll
be like, uh, we're doing another episode on fire trucks
and we need to do this tillar tests. Yeah, and
they went, don't you mean fire twalks? Like you're speaking
our language, buddy. If you want to know more about
fire twalks, go down to your local fire station, maybe
ask them for some chili. They'll love for They'll love

(46:30):
you to ask them for a tour. I guarantee you
they'll if they're not busy, they'll say sure, come on
in and they'll they'll probably give you some chili without asking. Yeah. Um,
and since I said chili, it's time for a listener mail,
I'm gonna call this one on war Masks that I was.
I thought that was pretty good episode. Hot off the presses. Yes,

(46:51):
it was a good episode, Chuck, Greetings from Dublin. Hey guys,
fairly recent listener. I moved to Ireland from the UK
about a year ago, and not knowing many people, you
guys have kept me uh provided a real comfort for me.
I just listened to the episode on war mass something
already kind of knew about. I used to work for
a publisher specializing in military history, and while I found
the glorification of war it's sickening, it was weird. It

(47:12):
was weirdly interesting to me, the effective injury mental and
physical on the on the soldiers. We published a book
called The Whistlers Room about so called uh deformed German soldiers,
and she puts that in quotes as if to say,
you know, it's not the proper nomenclature. Yeah, getting medical
treatment at a hospital before heading back out into the wider,

(47:34):
wider world. The men were called whistlers because due to
the injury, they could not breathe through their mouths or noses,
instead had holes cut in their throats, which created a
whistling noise. The book, in turn led me to a
film called The Officers Award. It's a French film h
les Chambre the Officia based on a novel based on

(47:54):
a true story and following a French military engineer who
suffered extreme injury to his space and throat on his
first day of action in World War One, and his
treatment involved facial trauma, uh and a war mask. The engenuity, ingenuity, compassion,
and perseverance showed by the doctors and nurses was apparently
very accurate as where the treatment shown. It is utterly compelling,

(48:15):
heartbreaking and I recommend it. That is from Hanna mc adams.
Keep up the cracking work. Love that. Uh So it's
called The Officer's Award French film. I'm gonna check it out,
yeah for sure, or the schenbre The Office their let's
try to Okay, I think you did it better, Chuck.
Good work, Thanks Hannah. Great name to Hannah McAdams, kind

(48:38):
of like rolls off the tongue like a punch. If
you want to get in touch with us, like Hannah
McAdams did, you can find us at stuff you Should
Know dot com. All of our social links are there,
or you can send us all an email to Stuff
podcast at how stuff works dot com for more on
this and thousands of other topics. Is it how stuff

(49:00):
works dot com

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