Unit BX 36 of the Baden Volunteer Fire Department in southern Prince George's County, Maryland, was a 1978 CJ-5 with 65 GPM pump and 75 gallon tank. It shared quarters with Brush 36 (70K JPEG), a 1964 Ford which carried an 8 man crew.
Baden VFD is now part of the Prince George's County Fire Department, and we're sad to hear that PGFD reports the Jeep was severely damaged on 12 November 2008 (see below). Thanks to Robert Francis for letting us know.
"A hay baler had accidentally ignited dry hay and the fire started to quickly spread. As the brush unit approached the scene, smoke from the fire was lying close to the ground. The smoke obscured the view of the driver and a large rolled bale of hay was in the path of the unit. The brush unit, with two seat-belted firefighters on-board, struck the bale and rolled onto its side directly into the seat of the field fire.
"The vehicle quickly was overcome by the fire, however both firefighters escaped unharmed. The vehicle is considered a total loss."
See also a rear view photo (100K JPEG).
Factory-built fire Jeeps were given their own series of serial numbers starting in 1955, when both a CJ-3B Fire Engine and a CJ-5 Fire Engine (see an advertising brochure, 50K GIF) were offered by Willys, as well as a 4WD Jeep 6-226 truck (see Willys-Overland Production Figures for details).
This 1958 CJ-5, with a 150-gallon water tank, heavy-duty suspension, and PTO pump, was built for McDonnel Douglas Aircraft. See also a front view photo (50K JPEG).
Tremaine Cooper reported that "I just brought home what I was told was a '57 CJ-5. The serial number is 5704802 10001. The prefix is for a factory fire Jeep (see Willys-Overland Production Figures 1945-1961) so it appears to be the first CJ-5 fire Jeep, made in '55. There are a couple odd holes left, but no obvious fire apparatus on it. Much of the chassis is still painted red. I would love to hear any other info if anyone has any."
This is the only factory photo I have seen of a CJ-5 Jeep Fire Engine. Like many factory Jeep fire engines, it was assembled by Howe Fire Apparatus of Anderson, Indiana.
This photo of a 1979 CJ-5 used by the Oshtemo Township Fire Department in Michigan, was sent by Jim Fairweather. The Jeep, on loan from the Department of Natural Resources, carries 80 gallons of water.
A recent article in Jp magazine suggests that over 3,000 Jeeps are still in service with fire departments in the United States, and here's another department in Ohio that is doing their share to keep that statistic valid. Brookfield Fire Department has had 4x4 grassfire capability since buying a surplus Army truck in 1949, and as of 2001 they run two 1977 CJ-5s, Units 18 and 181.
Recently refurbished by East Brandywine Fire Company in Pennsylvania, Brush 49 is a 70's-vintage CJ-5 with a 70-gallon tank and a 90 GPM pump. It also carries other goodies, including a chain saw on the front bumper (60K JPEG). East Brandywine is a mutual aid company with Modena FC and West Bradford FC, who both run CJ-7 brush units.
Jim Fairweather spotted an interesting pair of CJ-5 "Fire Plows" on the website of Spokane County (WA) Fire District 4. Jim says, "Plow 44 is an early 5. Plow 41 (20K JPEG) looks like a '72 or later. Unknown if they use purpose-built fireline plows, or Monroe 3-pt. hitch and an agricultural plow. They look to be a disk-type plow." The front toolboxes on the Jeeps appear to be serving as both counterweights and equipment storage.
Unit 6418 of the High Ridge Fire Department in Missouri is a 1973 CJ-5 used on brush fires that are inaccessible by other means. In addition to the front winch and the pick head axe mounted on the side, equipment carried includes bolt cutters, hydrant tool, spotlight, leaf blower, backpack-style water tank with sprayer, chainsaw, extra fuel, 55-gallon water tank, 150 feet of 3/4-inch hose, 50 feet of 1-1/2 inch hose, and a rake.
After 1961, fire truck manufacturers such as Sutphen in Columbus, Ohio continued to modify Jeeps for the fire service, and as the examples on this page demonstrate, many departments also adapted Jeeps to their own needs. Highland Township Fire Dept. in Michigan had this 1979 CJ-5 in service until 1998.
Reiffton Fire Company has been in operation since 1913 in Exeter Township, fifty miles northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their Brush 2 is a 1974 CJ-5 equipped with an 80-gallon tank, chain saw, and 8000-lb. winch.
Big Rapids, Michigan, Department of Public Safety Fire Division runs a 1968 CJ-5 as Grass Rig 1-9. The Jeep was surplus from the U.S. Forestry Service, and was rebuilt by the fire fighters. It's primarily used for grass fires, but also allows access to locations other apparatus can't reach, and can tow the Division's inflatable water and ice rescue boat (40K JPEG).
How much equipment can you carry on a CJ-5? This Jeep was possibly the only piece of apparatus for the Davis Park F.D. on Fire Island, New York when the photo was taken in 1984, so it was equipped with a bit of everything including helmets for the volunteers. Clearly brushfires were a concern, as there are backpack tanks in the equipment boxes hung off the sides of the Jeep, and brooms and shovels in the overhead box. Looks like a gas-powered pump on the front, with suction hose pre-attached although there's room for hose and ladders on the overhead rack.
The photo is by Robert Vaccaro, from his article in the August 1984 issue of Firehouse magazine. See also another Fire Jeep on Fire Island.
Thanks to Chris Jordan of Reiffton, John Hilton of Baden, and Capt. John Blauch of Chardon. Also Gary Urbanowicz, Alfred Heibert, Dale Jonas, Jarek Skonieczny and Brian Gough for spotting fire Jeeps. -- Derek Redmond
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