Fire Truck Brand Spotting Guide by Ben Saladino Copyright © 2003-2010 All photography by Ben Saladino.

I've really gotten into photographing fire trucks and collecting diecast replicas of fire trucks the past few years. If you enjoy looking at fire apparatus like I do then you might find this guide helpful. It is by no means a complete guide. My interest is primarily current trucks, and especially those located in my area, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. After some experience and much help from some friends also interested in this odd hobby, I've put together this guide. It's much easier to know what brand, and in some cases, what model an engine or truck is by looking at things like the grill, shape, how the aerial is connected, company emblems, and so on. I know, if you can see the company emblem, what more do you need to know? I guess it's just cool to be able to pick out a truck from a distance or in a not-so-good photo. Anyway, on with the trivia. If you see a major error please click on my name above to email me. Remember, it's just a beginner's guide.


American LaFrance
American La FranceAmerican La France - Older StyleAmerican La France - Newer StyleAmerican LaFrance - Newer StyleAmerican LaFrance Metropolitan - a less expensive, and less curvey model, but similar grill to other newer ALFs.

American LaFrance stabilizer jacks
American LaFrance apparatus are characterized by their roundish cab fronts. While not as round as they use to be(2nd photo), the newer models still feature the curves. Even the light bars are rounded. The grills on the newer models also stand out among other brands with their close and wide horizontal slats.
New Deliveries
Crimson
   Crimson MetroStar Classic  Crimson Gladiator Evolution  Crimson aerial stablizer jacks  Crimson aerial

There are lots of rounded rectangular slots on the grill with the black/on red Crimson logo in the lower, middle. The corners of the grill are also rounded. Crimson is the result of a merger of Luverne and Quality, owned by Spartan and based on the Spartan chassis.
New Deliveries

E-One

 E-One Logo  E-One Front  E-One Typhoon's Unique Front Grill  E-One's front side parallelogram windows E-One aerial jacks

Newer E-One trucks are easy to pick out if you can see the grill, because their logo is usually smack dab in the middle. Grill slots are rounded rectangular, and many. The grill corners are squared off.
The 3rd photo from the left above is of their Typhoon model which uses a unique grill of its own.

Another way I pick out many E-Ones is by the front side windows which are often the shape of a parallelogram(4th photo from left).
New Deliveries
Ferrara
Ferrara Front2nd type Ferrara FrontFerrara Windows slope down in front.
Mosts Ferraras feature a "gratey" looking grill. The front side windows slope down on the front lower corner.
New Deliveries
Freightliner
Freightliner LogoFreightliner FrontFreightliner Side Profile
Freightliner's commercial chassis is a popular base for many fire trucks.
Grumman
Grumman
They are no longer making fire engines(They were built from 1976-1992 according to some sources). This particular model does have a somewhat different looking grill with their name. Slots are rounded, rectangular slits. The grill's corners are rounded on top and sharp on the bottom with an arch on this particular model. Grumman got into the fire truck business after buying the Howe Fire Apparatus Company of Anderson, Indiana. Thanks to Dave Sims for some of the history.
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HME

Grill is arched on top with "HME" logo. Slots are fairly large, sharp and rectangular.
New Deliveries
International
Interrnational Front 
International's commercial chassis are commonly used for ambulances and specialty trucks, as well as engines.

KME
KME Logo (from side of cab)KMEKME (another grill style)
Slots in grill are sharp (right angles) and square. The KME's I've seen either have an arched top (2nd photo) or squared off grill corners(3rd photo).
New Deliveries
Luverne 

Various grill slot types. I believe the newer models have rounded rectangular slots. Grill corners as you see, can be arched or squared off. In both cases the scripted Luverne oval logo is present. To me, Luverne's seem to have an even more boxy(squarish) look than most fire trucks.
Crimson is the result of a merger of Luverne and Quality, owned by Spartan.
Oshkosh ARFF/Crash Truck
Oshkosh Striker These guys come in 4, 6, and 8 wheel versions.
Pierce
Pierce Logo from Aerial IntakePierce Front with the popular two-tone paint arching away from the grillPierce Arrow front with broad body moldingAn older Pierce with the broad body molding, but no grillThe economical Contender
Pierce grills often seem to have a mesh-like appearance behind the slots, as well as being squared on the corners. Some model's grill frames protrude almost like a fancy picture frame. Many older models have a horizontal metal body molding around the headlights(photos 3 & 4 above). The Contender (5th photo above) has diagonal, rounded, rectangular slots on a squared off grill.

Another "It's a Pierce" giveaway are the sharp corners on the square side crew windows (see 2nd photo below). Almost all other manufactures window corners are rounded.

The Pierce Quantum (photos below) has a look of its own. Its toy "transformer" character took a while to grow on me, but it did. The automatic side steps are pretty cool, but I hear you have to watch your shins<G>.

 The Pierce Quantum is really easy to pick out.  The Quatum's got a lot of character!  A great looking Quantum  Pierce aerial Pierce jacks (this is not a Quantum)

Some of the newer Pierce models, including the Impel and Velocity have a small hood for easy access to check vital fluids.Pierce PUC/Velocity/Impel

New Deliveries
Quality
Quality Front
Slots in grill are rounded and rectangular. Grill corners are square.
Crimson is the result of a merger of Luverne and Quality, owned by Spartan.
New Deliveries
Rosenbauer

 Rosenbauer Logo  The very unique look of the Rosenbauer  Rosenbauer Panther ARFF  Rosenbauer Aerial Rosenbaur aerial jacks

These puppies (those not based on the Spartan chassis) have a very unique look. Frankly, they remind me of public transportation, like a train or bus, and have a very "plastic" look to them. The grill molding is recessed, looking like it's painted on a Boley replica. The shape of the grill is that of a trapezoid if I remember my geometry correctly.
Seagrave
Seagrave frontA slightly older SeagraveNotice Seagrave's Flame Logo between the front and back doors.Seagrave The Flame Front

The chrome molding around the lights on the front really set the Seagraves apart. Verticle grill slats with mesh-like backing are common, but you'll know it's a Seagrave before noticing that.
New Deliveries
Smeal

I believe they're all based on the Spartan chassis, but there are not a lot of them around here yet. I heard they've got a great aerial, and we'll probably start seeing more of them in the D/FW area.
New Deliveries

Spartan
Spartan FrontSpartan with body by GeneralSpartan's Gladiator front
I've seen both rounded and squared off grill corners as pictured above. In either case, the slots are rounded and rectangular. The 3rd photo is of the Gladiator model which is pretty unique and easy to pick out. Crimson is the result of a merger of Luverne and Quality, owned by Spartan, a chassis manufacturer commonly used by several fire truck body companies.
New Deliveries
Sutphen
Sutphen FrontSutphen FrontSutphen Front with Arched GrillSutphens Trademark Lights
Supthens' boxed lights make them really easy to pick out. The S on the round logo also helps. Grills may be arched, but I think most of the newer models are squared.
New Deliveries

My Fire Truck Photos