Perhaps the most common of the Jeep fire engines was the CJ-2A conversion done for Willys-Overland by a number of manufacturers from 1946-49. Many of them survive in private collections, museums, and even still in service.
The CJ-2A seen here was bought new in 1948 by the Municipality of St-Esprit, Quebec. In service for 47 years, it accumulated only 2481 miles. The rack supporting the hoses was replaced in 1980, and the Jeep was repainted in 1985. After its retirement in 1995 it was bought by firefighter Rene Lemieux, who worked with the vehicle in active service from 1988.
The builder's plate on the St-Esprit Jeep reads, "Genuine Willys Jeep Equipment, Model S1, Sterling Machine & Mfg. Co. Ltd." For more on Sterling Machine, located in Owen Sound, Ontario, see Canadian Jeep Fire Engines.
This former West Vancouver 1947 CJ-2A is reportedly another Sterling conversion, and was in service from 1948 to 1989. The overhead ladder and suction hose was removed to make the vehicle more stable, and according to Shane MacKichan, its original American Marsh 300 GPM pump was also removed. It has been restored by the West Vancouver Fire Service Museum and Archives Society, with a 160 GPM Barton pump (70K JPEG). Photo courtesy West Vancouver Fire Service Museum.
Another 1947 CJ-2A, in Milk River, Alberta, also comes from Sterling Machine. Purchased in 1949 after a church fire, its last fire was in 1993, just before it was restored. This photo taken at a parade in Victoria BC in 2008 is courtesy of the West Vancouver Fire Service Museum.
The racks for rolled hose on the front fenders are an unusual feature. The Milk River and District Fire Department also added the boards in the rear for quick access to nozzles and fittings.
One of the earliest Howe Jeeps is this column-shift 1945 CJ-2A owned by Art and Darlene Gloss in Missouri since 1988, and photographed by Bob Christy in 2014. The Jeep was originally sold to a lumber company near Sandpoint, Idaho, and later joined the Sandpoint Fire Department, where it racked up a little over 2,000 miiles.
A restored 1948 Howe conversion with Barton single stage 500 GPM pump is on display at the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting in Phoenix, Arizona. It was apparently originally purchased by a private farm in Wisconsin.
This Jeep has been listed for sale a couple of times in recent years, described variously as a 1947 or 1949 CJ-2A. It was reportedly used at a stockyard in Missouri, and later driven in parades to promote Kovac's Hometown Foods in St. Joseph MO.
Interestingly the Howe Fire Apparatus Jeep Production List shows a CJ-2A with Howe serial number 7932 sold to the St. Joseph Stockyards, but lists it as a 1946.
The Jeep still has the Barton pump and some of the other equipment, although the hose is gone, as is the equipment basket above the hose bed. In 1949, this Howe 2A complete with all equipment would have cost about $4300.
The cab of the Jeep Fire Engine was pretty spartan -- the pump controls were on the front grille. Howe took delivery of the Jeeps from Willys with the optional passenger seat, as well as heavy duty springs and radiator, and an engine speed governor.
There is a Howe builder's plate on the dash of this 2A, but the serial number is not visible.
This very original CJ-2A is used by the Aqua Jesters clown club in Minneapolis. Darlyne Erickson of the Aqua Jesters told us, "The story goes that a few of the guys drove to wherever these Jeeps were made and picked it up new and drove it back to Minneapolis. It's only used in the summer in parades and stored throughout the winter. It's been repainted and actually runs great... almost. The other day it died on us, and hopefully we'll get it up and running soon."
Here's a beauty of a CJ-2A, still in active service as of 2002. Brushfire Unit 4726 is a 1947 Jeep belonging to the Mumford Fire Department in New York state. It has a 350 GPM front pump and 110-gallon tank, and the MFD describes its mission as "grass fires/inaccessible areas/water supply."
A well-worn but basically complete CJ-2A (apparently "Old No.1" of some department) is squeezed in with the collection of fire engines at Willys America in California. See a rear view photo (70K JPEG) also by Bill Brennan.
Willys CJ-2A serial number 1161701 belongs to Tremaine Cooper, who says, "It was used at a hunting and fishing club in Pennsylvania from new until 2002. It has 2,300 miles and original (faded) paint. All the fire gear including all nozzles, both ladders etc. are still with the vehicle. The '48 inspection sticker is even still on the windshield."
Thanks to Gordon Church, Bill Brennan, Bill Wheeler, Tremaine Cooper and Dale Jonas. -- Derek Redmond
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