Two worlds: AVENGER vs. AT

White, green, blue, black, and even purple firefighting vehicles, could it be true? While most vehicles in Europe are painted flame red with RAL 3000, in the USA they come in all colors of the rainbow. It is obvious at first glance: US and European firefighting vehicle are very different. These are two different worlds.

Amply dimensioned

It is partially due to the infrastructure why firefighting vehicles look the way they do. In the US: open cities, wide streets, plenty of space for traffic. In Europe: historic city centers, narrow old town alleys, a lot of traffic in a small space. US firefighting vehicle are therefore traditionally more generously dimensioned and look larger than their European counterparts.


If you take a Rosenbauer CL box-type van conversion and compare it with a Rosenbauer Pumper on a COMMANDER chassis, there are almost four meters of difference in vehicle length. With comparable functionality! The HLF 20, which is standardized in Germany and Austria, can have a maximum length of 8.6 m, including limber hose reel. The average US all-rounder (EMS, fire and rescue) is ten meters long, plus a bumper protruding by up to 60 cm. According to the standard, eleven meters is the permitted length for a German turntable ladder of the 30-meter class; in the US, vehicles with the same rescue height are up to 15 meters long. And a Tiller ladder, built on a semi-articulated trailer even reaches up to 20 meters.

Playful in design

But it is also the greater freedom US fire departments have in designing their vehicles that makes the difference. American firefighting vehicles appear more individual and playful than European ones. The coloring mentioned above is only one aspect. Another example is the color design of the warning devices: red instead of blue rotating beacons or a multicolored "sea of flashing lights" on the front of the vehicle, which all play a part. Radiator grills are adorned with "Stars and Stripes," and nicknames are emblazoned on the crew door, such as "Pride of Hells Kitchen," instead of radio call signs. Chrome also frequently flashes from all corners, analog round instruments and massive levers instead of digital displays and push-buttons determine the appearance of the pump operator's panels.

Built on custom chassis

There are also major differences in the chassis (chassis including driver's cab) on which the firefighting vehicle is built. While in Europe chassis from large commercial vehicle manufacturers are used, the US fire industry have their own chassis and thus have become the single source provider for its customers.


Rosenbauer America has three custom chassis on offer: The flagship model COMMANDER with the largest variability, the base model WARRIOR in defined variants and the new AVENGER, which has a line layout that underlines its robust character that has not yet been seen in US firefighting vehicles. The chassis is produced by Rosenbauer Motors in Wyoming, Minnesota in two widths and numerous cab options (seven lengths, five roof heights, individually designed interiors).


The biggest commonality between American and European firefighting vehicles is their front sections. Meanwhile, the "flat noses" have established themselves in the USA and the custom chassis are exclusively front-wheel steering. If a fire department insists on a long hood, the vehicle will of course also be built on such a chassis (e.g. Kenworth T370 or International Lonestar).

At home in both worlds.

Basically, standards describe how firefighting vehicles have to look and what functions they have to cover. In Europa that is EN 1846 or the national standards derived from it, such as DIN EN 1846. In the US, the NFPA 1901 (National Fire Protection Agency) specifies how firefighting vehicles have to be built in terms of safety, functionality, performance, and user-friendliness.


Rosenbauer is the only international fighting equipment supplier who covers both standards worlds. The group supplies the firefighting markets in Europe with the series CLATETand CBS. For the US market the three chassis types named can be combined with four different body module variants. The resulting complete range of products covers all types of vehicles that the fire departments require for their various operations here as well as there. The symbiosis of both worlds has also already been realized: The AT Commander, a firefighting vehicle with European body module and American chassis.