How to Look Up Fire Engine or Fire Truck Numbers

by Carolyn Enright
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San Diego Fire Fighter image by Charles Kaye from

Fire engines are big, red, loud -- and numbered for easy tracking. All fire service vehicles are referred to as "apparatus" that differ based on their function. A fire engine, sometimes called a "pumper," can do three jobs: pump, transport firefighters and carry hose. A fire truck transports ladders and equipment --- but does not have a pump. Fire protection districts keep track of their engines and trucks through unique numbering systems. If you know the numbering system, you can use a fire engine's number to trace it to its station.

Step 1

Write down the number of the fire truck or engine. If you can't write it down, try to remember the first numbers. These should help you identify the fire protection district or station to which the engine or truck belongs.

Step 2

Call your local fire protection district. Even if you can only provide the first couple of numbers, fire protection personnel should be able to tell you if the truck or engine is part of their fleet. If it's not, they will probably be able to point you to the appropriate district.

Step 3

Check the fire protection district's website for information on fire "apparatus" or equipment. Some list the numbers and pictures of the fire engines and trucks right on the site. If you don't know the name of the fire protection district, start at your county or city website.

Step 4

Try to decode an engine or truck number based on common numbering systems. In many fire protection districts, the first number or couple of numbers identifies the fire protection district, the next number denotes the station and the final number refers to the type of apparatus. Applying this system to Engine 7710, "77" is the district number, "1" is the station number and "0" indicates the vehicle's function, in this case, a fire engine. Some cities have very simple numbering systems. For example, if Station 2 has three engines, they may be numbered Engine 21, Engine 22 and Engine 23.

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