Essential Equipment Every Rural Fire Department Wants and Needs

Published on:  

September 15, 2023

Small town fire departments have to face several unique challenges to keep their communities and families safe. Rural fire stations often have to make do with limited resources, older equipment, and smaller teams that may not be able to effectively respond to every need. Combine these common issues with geographical factors — such as a lack of water sources or long distances between crucial cities — and it quickly becomes apparent that rural firefighters deserve more assistance.

One of the most important parts of managing structural fires and wildfires is having all the right equipment at a moment’s notice. Each firefighter and fire apparatus should be equipped with the materials best suited for their community’s needs, but finding the funds for this can be difficult. 

To make the most of your current resources, here’s a list of equipment that should be included in every rural fire department’s inventory.

First Aid Supplies

When a small town fire station receives a call, they don’t know if they’ll be heading to a wildfire, a house fire, a car accident, or another emergency entirely. To be prepared for the greatest number of scenarios, rural fire departments should keep their first aid bags fully stocked with potentially lifesaving equipment. 

In many smaller communities, firefighters often have to take on the role of an EMT. An emergency medical bag should be included on every rig and filled with bandages and dressings, gloves, sanitizing wipes, a seat belt cutter, shears, and airway management tools. Some fire departments may also want to invest in disaster control kits, which include lights and traffic signals for directing vehicles away from dangerous scenes, or trauma kits that can help address more severe injuries like gunshot or knife wounds.

Type 3 Truck

There are 7 different types of fire engines. Type 1 and Type 2 vehicles are the largest fire engines, typically used to quell structural fires in urban areas. They require at least 3 to 4 personnel, are equipped with ladders, and carry supplies like first aid kits, chainsaws, axes, fire hoses, nozzles, and much more.

Type 3 trucks, on the other hand, are better suited for rural settings. Type 3 engines are lighter and easier to maneuver over uneven terrain while still being able to carry up to 1,500 gallons of water. The QTAC Super 3 is one of the best options due to its versatility and durability. “If you need to change the truck to a Type 6 due to contract requirements, all that's needed is a tank capacity restrictor,” explains QTAC President, Jason Black. “Now you have a Type 6.”

Turnout Gear

Turnout gear refers to everything a firefighter wears and carries with them while they’re at a working fire. Most importantly, all firefighter gear must meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines, including:

  • Fire-resistant jackets and trousers
  • Thick gloves for structural fires, wildfires, and rescue operations
  • Puncture-resistant protective boots
  • A helmet to protect from falling debris
  • A self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to prevent firefighters from inhaling smoke or toxic fumes

The tools a firefighter carries with them can vary based on the individual’s preferences and the department’s needs. However, some of the most common equipment included in rural firefighters’ turnout gear includes:

  • An emergency knife
  • Wire cutters
  • Door wedges or chocks
  • Safety glasses
  • A flashlight or helmet-mounted light
  • A waterproof notebook and pen

Quint Fire Apparatus

As the name suggests, a quint apparatus has 5 key tools: a fire pump, water tank, hose bed, ground ladder, and aerial ladder. Quints are great for smaller fire stations because they’re capable of multitasking without requiring additional firefighters to operate.

The NFPA requires quints to have a ladder or elevating platform, a 300-gallon water tank, and at least 40 cubic feet of enclosed storage space. Quints should also have a fire pump with a minimum capacity of 1,000 gallons per minute so that firefighting teams will have a reliable water source. 

Hard Suction Hose

Hard suction hoses are used to vacuum up water from unpressurized sources, like lakes, creeks, or ponds. Rural fire departments often rely on these local water features to successfully put out fires, so a hard suction hose is critical. At least 20 feet of hard suction hose should be included on a rural rig to ensure the fastest possible response time.


According to a 2020 report from the NFPA, about 29% of fire ground injuries are caused by slips, trips, falls, or contact with objects. A simple way to avoid these injuries is to ensure that there’s plenty of adequate lighting. This is especially important in small towns that may not have many other sources of light. Some fire departments may also want to invest in a generator to make sure things don’t go dark unexpectedly. 

Generally speaking, LED lights are a great option for rural firefighters. LED lights can turn on within a fraction of a second and are more rugged and durable than traditional light bulbs. They’re also more affordable, come in an endless array of colors and sizes, and can be adjusted specifically for different use cases.

UTV Skids

If you’re in a farming community or any sparsely populated town, a UTV or other wildland vehicle can help firefighters quickly access off-road locations. Vehicles equipped with 4-wheel drive can be real lifesavers when a traditional fire rig can’t get through rough terrain in a timely manner.

A UTV skid can offer the right amount of support for a small fire department or individual use. The QTAC 85S is one of the most popular models, offering excellent functionalities, a lightweight base, and an affordable price. It features an 85-gallon water tank, 50 feet of ¾” hose, and hard suction capabilities to draw from static water sources. 

Final Thoughts

We know that every small town is unique, and QTAC is here to help you best meet your community’s needs. Whether you’re a volunteer at your local fire station, a farmer concerned about wildfires, or a veteran firefighter, our mission is to keep you safe with equipment you can always depend on. Check out our full product line here or feel free to contact us for more information!

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