Heavy rescue vehicle
A heavy rescue vehicle is a type of specialty firefighting or EMS (Emergency Medical Services
Emergency medical services
Emergency medical services are a type of emergency service dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care and/or transport to definitive care, to patients with illnesses and injuries which the patient, or the medical practitioner, believes constitutes a medical emergency...

) apparatus. They are primarily designed to provide the specialized equipment necessary for technical rescue
Technical rescue
Technical rescue refers to those aspects of saving life or property that employ the use of tools and skills that exceed those normally reserved for fire fighting, medical emergency, and rescue. These disciplines include rope rescue, swiftwater rescue, confined space rescue, ski rescue, cave rescue,...

 situations such as auto accidents requiring vehicle extrication
Vehicle extrication
Vehicle extrication is the process of removing the vehicle from around a person that has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, when conventional means of exit are impossible or unadvisable. A delicate approach is needed to minimize injury to the victim during the extrication...

, building collapses, confined space rescue
Confined space rescue
Confined space rescue is a subset of technical rescue operations that involves the rescue and recovery of victims trapped in a confined space or in a place only accessible through confined spaces, such as underground vaults, storage silos, storage tanks, or sewers.Confined space rescues can be...

, rope rescue
Rope rescue
Rope rescue is a subset of technical rescue that involves the use of static nylon kernmantle ropes, anchoring and belaying devices, friction rappel devices, various devices to utilize mechanical advantage for hauling systems, and other specialized equipment to reach victims and safely recover...

s and swiftwater rescue
Swiftwater rescue
Swiftwater rescue is a subset of technical rescue dealing in whitewater river conditions. Due to the added pressure of moving water, swiftwater rescue involves the use of specially trained personnel, ropes and mechanical advantage systems that are often much more robust than those used in standard...

s. They carry an array of special equipment such as the Jaws of life, wooden cribbing
Cribbing (rescue)
A box crib or cribbing is a temporary wooden structure used to support heavy objects during construction, relocation, vehicle extrication and urban search and rescue. It is commonly used to secure overturned motor vehicles, and debris within collapsed buildings. Cribbing is often used in...

, generators, winches, hi-lift jacks, crane
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

s, cutting torches, circular saws
Angle grinder
An angle grinder, also known as a side or disc grinder, is a handheld power tool used for cutting, grinding and polishing.Angle grinders can be powered by an electric motor, petrol engine or compressed air. The motor drives a geared head at a right-angle on which is mounted an abrasive disc or a...

 and other forms of heavy equipment unavailable on standard trucks. This capability differentiates them from traditional pumper trucks or ladder trucks designed primarily to carry firefighters and their entry gear as well as onboard water tank
Water tank
A Water tank is a container for storing water. The need for a water tank is as old as civilized man, providing storage of water for drinking water, irrigation agriculture, fire suppression, agricultural farming, both for plants and livestock, chemical manufacturing, food preparation as well as many...

s, hoses and equipment for fire extinguishing and light rescue. Most heavy rescue vehicles lack onboard water tanks and pumping gear, owing to their specialized role, but some do carry onboard pumps in order to broaden their response capability.

Additionally, heavy rescue apparatus can be popular choices for incident command vehicles, federal & local law enforcement (command/communications, SWAT, bomb response, etc), rehab, HazMat incidents, light & air, urban search & rescue (USAR), & more. Further more, many heavy rescue vehicles can be outfitted based on their target environmental setting, such as municipal, industrial, or wildland. These configurations, determined by the operational agency and district, and worked out with the manufacturing company, provide a plethora of options for storage, response, equipment, size, and more. Manufacturers such as Pierce Manufacturing
-Places:United States*Pierce, Colorado*Pierce, Idaho*Pierce, Kentucky*Pierce, Nebraska*Pierce, Texas*Pierce, Wisconsin*Mount Pierce , a peak in the White Mountains* Pierce County , several placesCanada...

, E-ONE, Seagrave, & others all have unique options that can be specifically tailored based on the ordering organization's needs & desires.

Depending on the size of the vehicle and the equipment it carries, a heavy rescue vehicle might fall into different categories, such as light, medium, heavy rescue, or technical rescue. While each of these categories often have overlapping tasks, they may be classified differently for the sake of dispatch on certain kinds of incidents. For instance, in Loudoun County, VA, the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department
Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department
The Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department or the Department of Fire, Rescue & Emergency Management has the responsibility of protecting the citizens and property of the towns, villages, and suburbs of Loudoun County, Virginia, United States, from fires and fire hazards, providing emergency...

 operates Medium & Heavy Rescue apparatus, which are categorized based on equipment carried. In Loudoun, to avoid confusion, a Medium rescue is referred to as a Squad Truck or a technical rescue (or just Squad), while a Heavy Rescue, which carries more equipment & is almost always larger, is referred to as a Rescue (or Heavy Rescue). This differentiation exists to allow vehicles that would not normally be classified as medium rescues, such as certain rescue engines, or tower/ladder trucks to be dispatched on calls requiring a higher level of technical rescue, if the regular squad has been dispatched. This in turn leaves the heavy rescue apparatus available, as opposed to sending them on a call that could have been handled by a medium rescue.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association
National Fire Protection Association
The National Fire Protection Association is a United States trade association that creates and maintains private, copywrited, standards and codes for usage and adoption by local governments...

 in the U.S.) standards 1006 and 1670 give guidance for the operation of heavy rescue vehicles and also state that all "rescuers" must have medical training equivalent to EMT-Basic standard to perform any technical rescue operation, including cutting into 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 Technician
Emergency medical technician
Emergency Medical Technician or Ambulance Technician are terms used in some countries to denote a healthcare provider of emergency medical services...

s, or Paramedic
A paramedic is a healthcare professional that works in emergency medical situations. Paramedics provide advanced levels of care for medical emergencies and trauma. The majority of paramedics are based in the field in ambulances, emergency response vehicles, or in specialist mobile units such as...

s, as a motor vehicle accident has a patient
A patient is any recipient of healthcare services. The patient is most often ill or injured and in need of treatment by a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, veterinarian, or other health care provider....


Railway Heavy Rescue

In addition to traditional fire brigades and rescue departments, tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

 or railway companies may have their own heavy rescue squads specialized in responding to tram or train accidents including derailment
A derailment is an accident on a railway or tramway in which a rail vehicle, or part or all of a train, leaves the tracks on which it is travelling, with consequent damage and in many cases injury and/or death....

s. For example, railway rescue squads may carry specialized equipment for railway accidents like heavy hydraulic jacks, heavy truck-mounted cranes for lifting and moving derailed locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

s and train cars, and equipment for capping leaking tank car
Tank car
A tank car is a type of railroad rolling stock designed to transport liquid and gaseous commodities.-Timeline:...


Hazardous materials

Heavy rescue vehicles can also be outfitted specifically as hazardous material response vehicles. In this role, they carry the necessary specialized equipment to respond to and deal with hazardous material incidents. Apart from a pump and tank(s) for water and/or foam, they will carry things like chemical protection suit
Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garment or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury by blunt impacts, electrical hazards, heat, chemicals, and infection, for job-related occupational safety and health purposes, and in...

s, decontamination
Decontamination is the process of cleansing the human body to remove contamination by hazardous materials including chemicals, radioactive substances, and infectious material...

 supplies, material for absorption of chemicals, and supplies to plug leaks in storage tanks.

See also

  • Rescue squad
    Rescue squad
    A rescue company is a public service organization that uses specialized equipment and knowledge to rescue people. There are two typical applications: squads that rescue trapped people, and squads that rescue people who are having medical emergencies....

  • Fire apparatus
    Fire apparatus
    A fire apparatus, fire engine, fire truck, or fire appliance is a vehicle designed to assist in fighting fires by transporting firefighters to the scene and providing them with access to the fire, along with water or other equipment...

  • Emergency medical services
    Emergency medical services
    Emergency medical services are a type of emergency service dedicated to providing out-of-hospital acute medical care and/or transport to definitive care, to patients with illnesses and injuries which the patient, or the medical practitioner, believes constitutes a medical emergency...

  • Extrication
  • Glossary of firefighting terms
    Glossary of firefighting terms
    Firefighting jargon includes a diverse lexicon of both common and idiosyncratic terms. One problem that exists in trying to create a list such as this is that much of the terminology used by a particular department is specifically defined in their particular standing operating procedures, such that...

  • Flying Squad
    Flying Squad
    The Flying Squad is a branch of the Specialist Crime Directorate, within London's Metropolitan Police Service. The Squad's purpose is to investigate commercial armed robberies, along with the prevention and investigation of other serious armed crime...

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