Truck Company Operations

Robert R. Morris outlines the features and two basic categories of truck company operations, also known as truck work.


The aggressive interior attack of a structure fire is possible only when several firefighting operations are conducted in a coordinated manner. These operations are of two major types: engine and truck. They are conducted simultaneously. Photo by Craig Jackson A firefighter...


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The aggressive interior attack of a structure fire is possible only when several firefighting operations are conducted in a coordinated manner. These operations are of two major types: engine and truck. They are conducted simultaneously.

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Photo by Craig Jackson
A firefighter from Tampa, FL, Station 1 prepares to make an interior attack on a fire in a wood-frame dwelling. The tremendous smoke condition required extensive ventilation.


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Photo by Bill Bennett
An FDNY firefighter from Ladder 103 removes one of five victims who were trapped by an arson fire. One man was killed and four others were critically injured. The 1:25 A.M. blaze was started when arsonists poured gasoline under the front door to the apartment, trapping the family.

The features of truck company operations are:

  1. Truck work. The fireground operations that do not directly involve the use of water. These tasks may be done by any firefighter, either in an engine or a truck.
  2. Truck company tactics. The manner in which a truck company is deployed at a specific type of building; i.e., private dwelling, tenement or commercial building.
  3. Personnel assignment. Specific procedures to guide the initial action of truck company personnel.
  4. Apparatus placement and operation. The proper use of aerial ladder apparatus. This includes the positioning, stabilizing and operation of aerial equipment.

The specific topic of truck company operations known as truck work means operations and not apparatus, because any firefighter may perform the truck work. A firefighter assigned to an engine may have to force entry (truck work) in order to get his or her line into the building or a volunteer firefighter who arrives at the scene before any apparatus may have to enter the fire building and perform rescue (truck work).

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Photo by Dennis Satariano
A Fremont, CA, firefighter makes a size-up at a well-involved house fire. Electrical wires fell across the driveway. A false report of someone trapped gave firefighters problems as they had to commit to a rescue attempt early in the fire.


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Photo by Stephane Brunet
Montreal firefighters work to open the roof during a general-alarm fire.

Truck work falls under two basic categories: primary, which are the immediate operations; and secondary, which are done as needed.

Primary Operations

  • Rescue. The saving of human life. Rescue is the premier operation of not only the truck company but of all companies on the fireground. All efforts of the engines and trucks must support and enhance this operation.
    Rescue involves locating and gaining access to victims trapped in the building. In addition, rescue includes the removal of the victim from the building.
  • Search. Locating victims who are known to be trapped in the building and, in addition, a thorough examination of areas where victims may be trapped or in distress.
  • Forcible entry. Gaining entry to the building to allow all interior firefighting operations. In addition to entry, a means of egress may be made to allow the removal of victims and the exit of firefighters. Because forcible entry is so basic to the truck operations, it is arguably the most important operation of all truck work. Forcible entry is the standard by which a truck is judged.
  • Ventilation. Removing heat, smoke and fire through selected channels to the exterior of a building will have a positive effect on the outcome of an interior fire operation. Proper ventilation, vertical and/or horizontal, will greatly enhance the search for and removal of victims and also the confining and extinguishment of the fire.
    All interior operations are made more effective and safer when ventilation is performed properly.
  • Ladders. The placing of ladders for the purpose of rescuing occupants or gaining access to the upper floors and roof of a building by firefighters is the oldest and most basic truck operation. They range from portable ladders to aerial and tower ladders.

Locating Fire & Extension

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