The first quint was patented in 1912 by Metz Aerials, a German-based fire and rescue apparatus manufacturer. Soon after the revolutionary invention, North America-based manufacturers, such as American LaFrance (1935 or earlier) and Seagrave (1940 or earlier), began to produce quints.
While quints have been used to a limited extent since their invention, they became more popular in the 1990s, especially with smaller departments that were not able to properly staff both an engine and a ladder on many calls. Many fire departments in the United States needed budget cuts in the 1990s, which led to the use of quints. Although quints are more expensive than either apparatus separately, and do require more staffing to carry out all their operations, the fact that they are a combination of ladder and an engine allows some departments to carry out operations more efficiently. Still, many departments find them to be unsuitable for various reasons. The decision to use a quint depends on many factors, including fire department location, size, volunteer/combination/career status, and budget.
The US National Fire Protection Association has outlined the requirements for a piece of apparatus to function as a quint. The specifications come from the NFPA standard 1901, The Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus. Quint requirements are detailed in Chapter 9 of the standard, and are summarized below.
Fire pump: A pump with a minimum capacity of 1000 gpm (3,790 L/min).
Water tank: A tank with a minimum capacity of 300 gallons (1140 L).
Equipment storage: A minimum of 40 cubic feet (1.1 cubic metres) of enclosed compartmentation.
Hose storage: A minimum of 30 cubic feet (0.8 cubic metres) of storage area for 2.5 inch (65 mm) or larger fire hose. Two areas, each with a minimum of 3.5 cubic feet (0.1 cubic metres) for 1.5 inch (38 mm) or preconnected fire hose lines.
Ground ladders: A minimum of 85 feet (26 metres) of ground ladders, including at least: