Jeep Forward Control cab-over-engine trucks built by Kaiser-Willys from 1957-65 were the basis for a number of fire apparatus conversions around the world, quite different from those seen in North America.
Most Forward Control fire engines in Europe were fully enclosed apparatus, with bodies supplied by various coach builders in Europe, on imported Jeep cab and chassis units.
This example from Sittendorf, Austria is courtesy of Das große Buch der Feuerwehr-Oldtimer in Österreich ("The Big Book of Oldtime Fire Apparatus in Austria") by Günther Graber und Erwin Hauke (1990). The FC-170 had a box added to the rear, with crew cabin, storage and pump compartment.
A slightly different way of achieving a similar configuration is seen in a pair of FC-150s from coachbuilder Peter Reitbauer (130K JPEG) in Stanz, Austria. This unusual photo shows one of them being consecrated by a clergyman as it goes into service with the Freiwilliger Feuerwehr ("Volunteer Fire Brigade") in nearby Edelsdorf in 1962. The FC-150 is serial number 65548-25213.
A great wintertime in-service photo of the same truck shows suction hose on the roof, and a canvas covering snapped over the open rear compartment for the gas-powered pump. Not much was going to stop this truck with its chains and winch, from protecting this area at the eastern edge of the Austrian Alps.
The other FC-150 (left) was nearly identical, but equipped with a plow instead of a winch. It was used in the village of Fischbach, about 20 minutes east of Edelsdorf.
The value of tire chains and a snowplow to the volunteer firfighters in this part of Austria, can be fully appreciated in this beautiful photo of Fischbach. Photo by M.B. under CC.
Valentin Eggbauer, who grew up in Fischbach, is a Volkswagen Bus fan who always dreamed of restoring one of the FC-150 fire trucks. He says the Fischbach truck was "sadly scrapped 10-20 years ago, but I found parts from this truck including the doors (90K JPEG)."
In 2012 Valentin was able to purchase the Edelsdorf truck. it had been repainted in green (310K JPEG). Another photo of the Jeep on his trailer gives a view of the rear compartment (270K JPEG).
This undated photo shows a parade in Fischbach. In the background is a Willys MB still in service with the Feuerwehr at the time.
Valentin plans to document his restoration of the Edelsdorf Jeep on his Austrian Jeep FC-150 Blog.
I ran across this photo advertising United Manufacturing Co. of India, makers of fire apparatus. This fire engine is based on a Forward Control Jeep chassis (210K JPEG) also built in India, by Mahindra & Mahindra.
Jan Scheele took this photo of a 1964 FC-170 beautifully preserved by the community ("gemeente") of Gendt, south of Arnhem. Designed for equipment and personnel transport, the truck was never equipped with a pump, but can be seen here pulling a pump and hose trailer.
Known as the Res-Q-Van or simply "Q Van", this 1961 Willys FC-170 was the first dedicated rescue unit in Australia. It served with the St. George-Sutherland District of Sydney, and has now been restored and preserved as part of the New South Wales Ambulancehistorical collection. See more photos and details of the The Q Van.
The "Presha" Airfield Light Rescue Tender was a conversion by Presha Engineering of Melbourne, of some of the 126 Jeep FC-170 Forward Control trucks built by Willys Australia. Although Presha aimed their vehicles at Asian markets, this photo indicates that the light tender was also sold to Australian airports.
The truck carried a 175-lb. (80kg) dry chemical extinguishing system with two 100-ft. hoses, as well as a portable 20-lb. dry powder extinguisher. Its primary role was to get people out of airplanes; it powered two high-speed rescue saws and two 11-inch searchlights, and carried other rescue equipment including hydraulics. See a brochure for the Presha rescue tenders (160K JPEG).
Martyn Kiellor, Inspector with the Sutherland Rural Fire Service, says this FC used by his department "started life as a Presha LRT with the Australian Department of Aviation, Airport Rescue Firefighting Service, at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport. The vehicle had a PTO-powered generator, and CO2-propelled dry chemical fire fighting powder set on the rear. It was decommissioned and purchased by the Sutherland Bushfire Service, and utilised as a mobile refuelling unit carrying various fuels and parts by the Heathcote Brigade." (See also a photo with the compartments closed, 30K JPEG.)
"The vehicle was a LH to RH-drive conversion, which resulted in the steering wheel having a nasty offset (35K JPEG) in relation to the seating position, and had been re-powered with a Holden motor of 202 cu.in. displacement. The vehicle was retired as a result of changing regulations that rendered the carriage of bulk fuel impractical."
The truck had its custom rear body removed for a second career following its retirement from the fire service. It is now fully retired, and was bought in 1999 by Ted Robinette of the Willys Overland Club of Victoria, Australia. It has two data plates: Willys Motors Australia data plate no. FC170-1017, and Willys Jeep data plate no. 61568-21928. See a front view photo (32K JPEG) showing the roof-mounted spotlight.
Switzerland is home to a distinctive style of fully-enclosed fire engine built on an FC170 chassis.
This FC was used in Glattbrugg, a suburb of Zurich, to carry equipment for closing down streets in case of an emergency, and was in service from the 1960s through the 1980's. Thanks to Richard Jud and Craig Brockhaus for the photo.
Here's another example, configured slightly differently, but clearly from the same builder -- Hanni Co. of Zurich, Switzerland.
The volunteer fire department in Regensdorf, another suburb of Zurich, has been restoring this FC-170. See also a rear view (30K JPEG) and right side view (50K JPEG).
Here's something different, from the town of Hinwil, also near Zurich: a truck with a 750kg dry chemical tank and two 30-meter hoses. Thanks to The FC Connection for the photo.
A little further south of Zurich is Vordemwald whose Feuerwehr ("Fire Department" in German) takes their FC to shows like Jeeptreffen 2005 (60K JPEG) at Rothrist, on a regular basis.
This photo comes from Swiss Firefighters, and the truck appears to belong to the Service du Feu ("Fire Service" in French) of Vallorbe, north of Lausanne in western Switzerland.
Thanks to Ted Robinette, Martyn Kiellor, Vaughn Becker and fire literature collector J-C Guerry in France for the information on the Presha. Also to Stephan Meyer in Switzerland. -- Derek Redmond
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