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  • interesting. i’d think this would have to do with the fire truck using chemicals to put out the fires. spraying water on some types of fires makes them worse or spreads them out. for example you don’t want to spray water on an oil flare up on your stove.

  • No, ‘chemical engines’ were a type of fire apparatus used in the late 19th century to fight many types of fire. The ‘chemical’ component of the equipment involved mixing sulfuric acid and soda water to pressurize a jet of CO2 and water that would [in theory] put the fire out faster than water alone. In reality the CO2 didn’t do much but assist in pressurizing the water, which was certainly useful. Once fire apparatus became automobile-based an engine was used to pressurize the water and this practice was ended, since lugging around jugs of sulfuric acid wasn’t all that safe.

  • And yes, there are fire departments that deal [primarily] with chemical fires. You’ll find them at places like airports and near industrial parks. They’ll usually use things like foams and dry chemicals rather than water, which as eric said, can make matters worse.

  • interesting detail ontarioroad!

  • Thanks, the first week at many FD academies is mostly ‘the history of firefighting’. As they say about firefighting in America, “200 years of tradition, unencumbered by progress” … it’s mostly true.

  • DC still has two foam engines – one looks like a regular fire truck, and the other is an airport/offroad style one. They usually show up whenever the President is flying out of the White House. I think they are both stationed in SW – I see them around there kinda often.

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