August 17

Can You Buy a Fire Truck? Everything You Need to Know

You’ve seen them on the road. You may have even wondered why they’re red. But have you ever looked at a one roaring down the street and wondered, “Can I buy a fire truck?” Surprisingly, the answer is a resounding yes! Whether for the sheer love of these iconic vehicles, a business idea, or to support a volunteer fire department, civilians can indeed purchase a fire truck. However, before you venture into the market, here’s everything you need to know.

Understanding Fire Trucks

Fire trucks, also known as fire engines, are specialized emergency vehicles designed to assist in fire departments. Their mission is to save lives and property. To achieve that, they’re typically equipped with a water cannon, also called a deck gun. These are mounted on top for high-powered water discharge to combat large fires. A fire engine may also feature a variety of other equipment, such as a turntable ladder for reaching high places, a water tank, storage space for supplies, and more.

Looking for vehicles near you?

We'll email you with vehicles up for auction near you and featured auctions.

What Does a Fire Truck Carry?

What Does a Fire Truck Carry infographic

  • Deck gun
  • Water tank
  • Turntable ladder
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Breathing apparatuses
  • Hydraulic rescue tools
  • Floodlights
  • Storage space
  • Personeel
  • And more

Not all fire engines are the same. When employed by municipalities, these governances choose the type that works best for their area. Water tenders, for example, are specially designed to carry large quantities of water to fires in areas where a reliable water supply is not available. Aerial trucks have ladders that extend telescopically to reach tall buildings. These prove useful in densely populated cities.

What applies to both water tenders and aerial trucks, along with every other type of fire engine is that after a certain amount of usage or when the municipality upgrades to a stronger machine, these vehicles get retired. The last fire truck you saw on the road will one day be replaced. When that happens, these machines are put up for auction. Civilians then have an opportunity to buy.

When considering which fire truck you want to buy, you have to take type into account. Color will vary by location, but color can always be changed. The same is not true for fire engine type.

Types of Fire Trucks & Fire Engines infographic

Pros of Buying a Used Fire Truck

Pros of Buying a Used Fire Truck infographic


The best advantage to buying a used fire truck are the potential savings. A brand new fire truck can cost several hundred thousand dollars into the millions, while used models are much more affordable. The primary reason are all the customized features, which are made to reach high standards of safety and reliability.

The price of used fire engines will continue to vary depending on age, condition, and the type of equipment it carries. This financial perk can be especially crucial for volunteer fire departments working with limited budgets or civilians looking for an unusual vehicle without breaking the bank.

Unique Business Opportunity

Once bought on auction, used fire trucks can be repurposed for various business ventures. Examples include food trucks and party rental services. Some people turn them into tailgating masterpieces. The unique appeal and versatility of these vehicles can attract customers and help your business, or just you, stand out in the crowd.


There is a relatively large market for used fire trucks, offering a wide variety of types, sizes, and capabilities. Whether you’re looking for a water tender, a ladder truck, or a pumper, chances are you’ll be able to find a used version that suits your needs. If the particular model is not in your area, chances are there could be one nearby.

Cons of Buying a Used Fire Truck

Cons of Buying a Used Fire Truck infographic

Maintenance and Operating Costs

While the initial purchase price may be lower, these used vehicles can come with significant maintenance and operating costs. Since they are often sold after years of hard service, they may require considerable work to keep them in operational condition. Also, the cost of fuel, insurance, and storage for such large vehicles can be substantial.

Licensing and Legal Requirements

In many jurisdictions, operating a fire truck on public roads requires a special driver’s license like a CDL or similar permit. There may also be restrictions on the use of certain features, such as sirens and flashing lights. For example, you cannot legally maintain any signage from the vehicle’s previous use.


Fire trucks are built to last, but they’re also subjected to extreme conditions throughout their service lives. When you purchase a used fire truck, you’re buying a vehicle that may already have significant wear and tear. This could limit the lifespan of your purchase and result in frequent replacements or repairs.

Where to Buy a Fire Truck

You can’t just walk up to any dealership and say you want to purchase a fire engine. Alternatively, you can buy models directly from the manufacturers. Or if you’re looking to save money on used models, buying from an auction is also a good idea. Do your research, set a budget, and decide which option works best for you.

And if you’re looking to get a head start on the search, then take a look and what fire trucks and related items we have on auction.

Fire Trucks as Business Ventures

For some, buying a fire truck isn’t just about the joy of owning a unique vehicle. Many see an opportunity to transform these vehicles into an innovative business. For example, some entrepreneurs have converted fire trucks into food trucks, mobile bars, or unique party rental services. With their spacious interiors and eye-catching exteriors, fire trucks can easily make for a standout business venture.

Here are some ideas to consider:

Converting Fire Trucks for Business infographic

  • Food Truck
  • Mobile Bar
  • Party Rental Service
  • Tailgaiting
  • Electrical/Landscaping Fleet

That being said, converting a fire truck for commercial use involves significant work and investment. You’ll need to overhaul the interior, acquire the necessary permits, and ensure the vehicle is up to code for its new purpose. You’ll also need to understand your local regulations regarding the use of former emergency vehicles in a commercial capacity.

The Role of Fire Trucks in Volunteer Fire Departments

Many rural and suburban areas rely on volunteer fire departments to protect their communities. These departments often operate on tight budgets and can significantly benefit from the purchase of a used fire truck. A well-maintained, used model still provides the same essential services – transporting firefighters, carrying water, and housing equipment, but at a fraction of the cost.

If you are a part of a volunteer service, expect an easier time raising money to buy a used fire truck than waiting around for one to get donated.

Safety Considerations

Whether you’re buying a fire truck for personal enjoyment, business use, or as part of a volunteer fire department, safety should always be a paramount concern. Fire trucks are complex, heavy vehicles designed to operate in emergency situations. They require regular maintenance and inspections to stay in good working order.

Remember, while these trucks might no longer be serving on the front lines, they’re still hefty vehicles that can cause significant damage if not properly maintained and operated. Ensure you have the proper training to operate the vehicle safely, keep it well-maintained, and follow all local regulations regarding usage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to get a fire truck?

The cost of a fire truck varies depending on whether it’s new or used, its condition, and the equipment it carries. New trucks can cost upwards of half a million dollars, while used fire trucks are often more affordable.

Do you need a CDL to drive a fire truck?

In many places, you do need a CDL or a special endorsement to legally operate a fire truck on public roads. To be sure of which, always check your local regulations.

What is the most expensive fire truck in the world?

There is no one fire truck type that is more expensive than others. Instead, since fire truck cost depends on features, the more specialize the vehicle, the more expensive the truck.

How to value a used fire truck?

Valuing a used fire truck involves considering age, condition, maintenance history, and the equipment being carries. To get the best idea, consult with a fire line equipment dealer who can provide further insights.


Now that you know everything you need to about buying a fire truck, now’s your chance to make a selection. Go ahead and browse Municibid’s catalog of fire trucks, police vehicles, plus other automotive types. There are plenty of options and all at an affordable price!`

Last Updated on May 8, 2024


You may also like

Military Surplus Trends and the Thrill of the Treasure Hunt with Adam Hoke

Military Surplus Trends and the Thrill of the Treasure Hunt with Adam Hoke

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Retired Ambulance with Greg Berry

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Retired Ambulance with Greg Berry