Forward Control Fire Engines


The Jeep Forward Control, the 4x4 cab-over-engine truck built by Kaiser-Willys from 1957-65, was a natural platform for conversion to a small fire engine, and a number of companies took advantage of the opportunity.

Trenton National Trailer

Trenton National TrailerTrenton National Trailer (TNT) was a small company in Trenon NJ which built fire apparatus and ambulances on various truck platforms from the 1950s through at least the 1970's. Their truck bodies were also sold under the brand name "Kutz," and they built "Huntco" apparatus for the James B. Hunt Mfg. Co.

This large, dual-booster reel FC-170 pumper body from 1959 appears to have been designed for an urban department. See the hose bed, cab interior, rear lamps and builder's plate (100K JPEGs).

Reading Truck Body

Rescue truckThis Ed Effron photo of an unusual and possibly unique rescue squad, was found by Steve Hagy. Clearcreek Township at Springboro, Ohio (just south of Dayton) purchased this truck built by Reading Truck Body in Pennsylvania, around 1960. In addition to the large equipment storage area, the rig had a small-capacity front-mount booster pump.

H & H Apparatus

H & H ApparatusLocated in Jersey City, NJ, this company's claim to fame was building the three 1964 New York World's Fair fire engines. But those were clearly not the only Forward Control trucks they converted; this Dual Rear Wheels FC-170 carries less equipment but has some features very similar to the World's Fair units. It passed through several owners before being bought by the Bruno, Minnesota FD. See also a front view (60K JPEG), rear view (70K JPEG), the enclosed booster reel (80K JPEG) and the pump panel (180K JPEG). Thanks to Shad and Wenda for the photos.

Howe Fire Apparatus

North States AviationHowe was perhaps the largest manufacturer of fire service Jeep conversions. This 1964 FC-170 is a Howe conversion belonging to North States Aviation Sales in Michigan. It carries serial number 930924558, and shows only 6100 miles on the odometer. With dual booster reels, lots of equipment storage, and no suction hose mounted, this truck appears to have been originally designed for specialized quick response, perhaps in an industrial plant.

For more photos of the large variety of single and dual-wheel trucks built by the company, see Howe Jeep FC Fire Engines.

Boyer Fire Apparatus

FC150One of the rarest FC fire engines was this unit built by Boyer in Logansport, Indiana, on a short FC-150DRW chassis. It's perhaps surprising that the FC-150 wasn't used more often as an alternative to the Universal Jeep conversions, since it had the same short wheelbase but more room in the rear bed.

See Boyer Jeep FC Fire Engines for more photos and details of this unit and their larger FC-170 trucks.

Valley Fire Truck

Valley Fire TruckValley Fire Truck of Bay City, Michigan built a small number of FC conversions. This 1965 example has been restored by Andy Harvey of Pennsylvania, and lettered for his Pagsanjan Fire Brigade. The truck has a 200-gallon booster tank and 200 ft. hose reel. Mechanical features include the Bendix Hydrovac brake booster.

Andy has added some touches of his own which are not original to this truck, including bumper guards on the front, and additional beacon lights visible in a rear view photo (60K JPEG).

Wilkes BarreThe same truck is seen here shortly after delivery to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania as Pumper 4. It served as primary responder for 11 years in an area with many streets and alleys too narrow for a full-size engine, and was finally sold as surplus in 1992. In a photo of the delivery day ceremony (60K JPEG) on December 28, 1964, it is labelled as a "Darley Pumper." Valley was connected with W.S. Darley of Chicago, and this truck has a Darley Champion 500 GPM centrifugal pump.

See also a similar Valley FC pumper in a factory front photo (60K JPEG) and factory rear photo (70K JPEG) from Andy Harvey's collection, and in an advertisement with specifications (140K GIF).

W.S. Darley Co.

W.S. DarleyThe Darley Company in Chicago also assembled FC pumpers themselves. The 1959 FC in this builder's photo from Steve Hagy's collection has a 60 GPM high-pressure pump, and 200 gallon tank. This rig was delivered to Inland Steel Company of East Chicago, Indiana.

John Bean Co.

John BeanAnother midwest apparatus manufacturer who delivered Forward Control Jeeps was John Bean of Lansing, Michigan. Their trucks can often be identified by distinctive covered booster reels (30K JPEG). This 1963 FC-170 Bean Piston Pumper was originally built for McGuire Air Force Base, then later sold to the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey F.D. It has since been displayed at Chrysler events (70K JPEG) and as of 2008 belongs to Cecil DeLoach at Hook and Ladder Winery in California..

An advertisement for the John Bean 200 Series (140K JPEG) boasts of "fire-killing wallop with the scat and mobility of a sports car." The 200FJ carries a 200-gallon tank on the FC-170 chassis, while the 200FC puts the same body on a Ford F-350 or other compact 4WD chassis.

See also some custom FC fire engines built for the Chicago Fire Department.

Foam Units

With trailersAnybody recognize the trucks in this unidentified archival photo? A pair of FC-170DRW Forward Controls pull tank trailers, apparently at a refinery.

1958 FC150Jim Canavan restored this unusual 1958 FC-150. It was apparently converted as a foam truck which would be used in conjunction with a tanker or other source of water. The funnels (see a rear view, 80K JPEG) are filled with a high expansion foam, which is mixed with water coming in the 2-1/2" lines from a pumper/tanker. Jim fabricated the gleaming new diamond-plate bed in his shop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

AnsulHere's an FC-150 with a dry chemical tank installed by Ansul Chemical of Marinette, Wisconsin. This appears to be the same 300-lb. unit installed on their CJ-3B Crash Truck. They also installed a 1000-lb. unit on an FC-170 chassis.

Other Trucks

Many fire trucks were built on the dual-rear-wheels version of the FC. Joe Esdale brought this 1964 FC-170DRW from Pennsylvania to the 2003 Spring Midwest Willys Reunion with rear frame exposed, providing a good look at the drivetrain including T98 transmission. See also the rear chassis and the heavy duty front wheel (100K JPEGs.) Photos by Wes Knettle.

Willys AmericaPaul Barry at Willys America has this 1959 FC-170, serial no. 61568-16924, from the Pembina Volunteer Fire Dept. in North Dakota. It has a Hale pump driven by the central PTO. Paul says, "I think it rolled off the line as a pick-up and had the bed removed and the hose bed and PTO pump installed by a small independent fire apparatus builder. The interior of the cab is painted green as well as the upholstery is green. You can see the green bleeding through the red on the front below the windshield."

East Meadow Fire Department on Long Island NY had a small aerial ladder truck built on an FC-170 DRW chassis.

Thanks to Craig Brockhaus, Ken Buchanan, Stuart Warner, Andrew Harvey, Steve Hagy, Jim Allen and Shad Seibert. -- Derek Redmond

For more about Jeep Forward Control trucks, see Brooks Stevens' Forward Vision on CJ3B.info.

See more FC fire trucks in Fire Service Jeeps on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 7 October 2011 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond