Water carrier

Although the title may seem self-explanatory, there's a lot more than meets the eye to find out about what a water carrier can do. For example, how much water it can carry compared to a normal fire engine and how this transportation works.

What a water carrier is

It's a bulk water or foam carrying type of vehicle. This means that it's used to carry large amounts of water, and sometimes foam, to incidents. The vehicle then drops the water or foam into a large dam as close as possible to where the incident is.

Devon-based water carriers can offload their foam at the incident site itself, where it can be transferred onto appliances in attendance where required. This frees up space on the carriers so that they can continue to transport more water from other sources if needed. 

One full load of water carried on this vehicle is approximately equal to four normal appliance's water tank loads!

All of the water carriers in service at the moment are based on the MAN 18-tonne chassis model.

What it looks like

Where it's used

There are currently six water carriers in service.

Water-only carriers are located in Yeovil and Bridgwater. Water and foam carriers are located in Barnstaple, Torquay, Exeter and Plymouth.

These locations are just bases - the appliances can be sent to any area as required. Sometimes just one carrier will be sent, but there can be more if needed.

How it's maintained

All vehicles and their equipment are maintained by the Fleet Maintenance team, who are based at one of four workshops throughout the two counties. 

The only exceptions to this are the vehicle's communications systems (radio or mobile data links) which are maintained by the Communications department, which is based at Service Headquarters.

People who crew the vehicle

An OIC (which stands for Officer-In-Charge) and a driver or pump operator.

Equipment on the vehicle 

  • The four Devon-based carriers hold 8,200 litres of water. The secondary tank carries 1,000 litres of foam concentrate. 
  • The two Somerset-based carriers hold 9,000 litres of water only.
  • Other than the permanently fitted water pumps, all vehicles carry two 10,000 litre collapsible dams.
  • The Devon-based appliances also carry a 1,000-litre dam used to ground load the bulk foam.
  • As well as this, the Devon-based appliances carry a Light Portable Pump (LPP). This is used if access to the water supply is restricted. It will pump water to the carrier, rather than lifting the water itself.

The different types

  • Chassis or Bodybuilder. 
  • 4 x MAN or Fosters.
  • 2 x MAN or TVAC (this stopped trading in 2008/2009).











Total weight


18 tonnes.

The dimensions above are applicable to the MAN or Fosters build.

Did you know?

All of the current carriers were built or already in the process of being built before the combination of Devon and Somerset's fire services joining as one. This is why there's a difference in design between the Devon carrier and the Somerset carrier.